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Monday, October 14, 2013

A picture is worth a thousand words

One of the most common complaints patients come into my office with is palpitations or irregular heart beats.

There are many different reasons why patients feel palpitations. Some are totally benign (not serious) and others are dangerous and need to be actively worked-up and treated. 

The first step in diagnosing a palpitation is trying to determine exactly what the heart is doing while a patients is feeling the palpitations. We have many different types of monitors to do this with - depending on the frequency and duration of the patient's symptoms.

Now I have a new weapon and its as simple as an app on an iPhone The iPhone carries a powerful device to help monitor your heartbeat – the camera. By detecting changes in color while illuminating your finger with the built-in flash, the camera can detect the pulse in your arteries at the tip of your finger. 

Cardiograph is one app that does this. As you can see from the photo below, the first few pulses seem a little inaccurate but after that I had a fairly steady pulse at a rate 62bpm.

Although it is not entirely accurate and the app carries warnings on it that the app should not be used for medical purposes, I think for some patients it may be a wonderful way to cheaply and easily start work-up of their symptoms

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