New ECG method developed that uses signals from ears
Lisbon: In a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress, the researchers have developed a novel electrocardiogram (ECG) method that uses signals from hand and ears to check heart rhythm. This does not require the use of both the hands and is thus helpful for drivers, military and athletes. The study is touted to be the first study to show that the ear can be used for ECG signal detection.
"Mobile ECG devices present a major opportunity to detect atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder, and thereby prevent strokes and reduce hospitalizations. All commercially available portable ECG devices require both hands, but what if symptoms happen while driving?" said study author Dr. Raffaele De Lucia, of the University Hospital of Pisa, Italy.
An ECG was first performed by the standard method using two hands (left photo) and then by a novel method with the ear and hand (right photo).
Picture Credit: Copyright ESC
The study included 32 consecutive healthy volunteers (cardiology students and nurses). An ECG was first performed by the standard method, which uses the index and middle finger of each hand. A second ECG was conducted using the index and middle finger of the left hand and a clip attached to the left ear.
All ECGs were printed and analyzed by the device and by two cardiologists who were blinded to which method had been used. No differences were detected in the ECG results obtained by the two methods.
Dr. De Lucia said: "We have shown how the ear can be used as an innovative anatomical site for ECG signal detection in healthy adults. We are now conducting further studies to validate this method in patients with cardiac arrhythmias."
"The findings pave the way for a new kind of single lead ECG wearable device which leaves one hand free, making it easier to use. In addition to detecting previously undiagnosed atrial fibrillation, the device could be used to evaluate physical performance during exercise, prevent fainting, and check the heart during symptoms including dizziness and breathlessness. Patients already diagnosed with cardiac conditions such as atrial fibrillation could also use it to monitor their condition," write the authors.