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How smartphones could help prevent strokes

Smartphones could be rolled out in hospitals to help stop strokes, after new research found they are more effective than medical tests in detecting atrial fibrillation.

About a quarter of strokes are caused by atrial fibrillation, but some people with the dangerous heart condition don’t know they have it.

Neurologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Professor Bernard Yan, said the condition is transient in many patients, so doesn’t cause symptoms and is hard to detect.

“If you do a single test … the chance of picking it up is quite low, probably under five per cent,” he told Ross and Russel.

Research from the Royal Melbourne Hospital has found a device, known as an iECG, which is fitted to a patient’s fingers and scans for electrical disturbances, then sends results via ultrasound to a smartphone, can detect three times more cases of atrial fibrillation than current methods.

The iECG can detect the condition in just 20 seconds.

Current guidelines require patients to wear a halter monitor for 24 to 72 hours, but that still does not have a high rate of success in picking up the condition.

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