Researchers in Australia have come up with a method that uses a device to be attached to the back of the phone or to a smartphone case and can help pharmacists identify people who face the risk of a stroke.
This quick, cheap and accurate test can detect unknown atrial fibrillation (AF), a common abnormal heart rhythm that leads to strokes.
Atrial fibrillation shows no signs before causing a stroke and this can prove a danger to lives. It is common in people over 65 years.
The researchers wanted that pharmacists to be able to provide instant help to seniors when required. The critical condition does not show symptoms that would make patients visit their doctors, so targeting patients elsewhere is a good strategy, said researchers in a paper published in journal Thrombosis and Haemostasis.
Paper lead author Nicole Lowres said, "Many who have AF are unaware and have no symptoms that would lead them to visit their doctor."
Co-author Professor Ben Freedman said the findings could make pharmacy screenings a norm. "When screening becomes more generally available, those over 65 will want to include this as part of their regular health checks," he said.
As part of the trial, 10 pharmacies in Sydney used the special phone cover called the AliveCor Heart Monitor to screen 1,000 Australians over years and found 1.5 per cent was unaware of their heart condition that needed medical attention.
The monitor converts electrical impulses from users' fingertips into ultrasound signals that are picked up by the phone's microphone. These readings were sent through a smartphone to a portal where a remote cardiologist interpreted the readings. The system is available for a range of smartphones such as Apple iPhones and Android phones.