URMC and RIT developing app to detect heart disease

September 18, 2017 07:34 PM

ROCHESTER—Can a selfie save your life?  Researchers at the University of Rochester and RIT think so.  They’ve developed a new application for your smart phone that detects heart disease. 

It’s estimated more than 3 million people in the United States have atrial fibrillation and don’t even know it.  AFib is an irregular heartbeat, “when people have AFib, their risk for strike increases substantially,” says Dr. Burr Hall, a Professor of Cardiology at U of R.  He’s part of a team of local doctors that developed the app for smartphones and tablets which can identify the heart disease.   


“Think of all the time you spend every day just watching a screen, well, usually there is a camera watching right back at you... we're taking advantage of that actually,” adds Gil Tsouri of the RIT Department of Electrical & Microelectronic Engineering.  The app operates in the background, so you can do your browsing, your Facebooking, your streaming without even realizing its running.  It records your face in 15 second intervals when you’re looking at the screen and tracks subtle blushings of the skin. “We cannot see that with naked eyes but the technology that we have developed can enhance the signal and extract information about the user and the device on a beat by beat basis,” Dr. Jean-Phillippee Couderc, a Professor of Cardiology at U of R.

The app then alerts the user if there is an issue so you can make an appointment with your doctor.  The technology is proving successful in the hospital and office setting, now it’s time to expand it to homes.  The research team is looking for 300 people to test it.  “Patients who are over 65 years old, those who have diabetes, hypertension, any kind of vascular disease, sleep apnea, obesity, these are the types of patients who'd be higher risk for a-fib,” says Dr. Hall and those are the type of patients they’re hoping to encourage to try the app out.

“We hope that the technology will save lives, will improve quality of life for patients and have a significant impact on the healthcare system,” says Dr. Couderc. If you are interested in learning more about the study, call 585-275-1096.


Jennifer Lewke

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