Crowdsourced Platform Wants You To Help Save Lives With Your Heartbeat

Crowdsourced Platform Wants You To Help Save Lives With Your Heartbeat
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Heart for Heart is an app that's crowdsourcing information on a serious, and often undiagnosed, heart rhythm disorder called AFIB

Anna Johansson
  • 2 august 2017

“If you could help save millions of lives in 90 seconds, what would you do?” This is the opening line to a promotional video for the smartphone technology Heart for Heart, created by Happitech. It’s a free app that monitors your heartbeat in a matter of seconds.

This crowdsourcing campaign isn’t looking for money. Instead, the marketers want to spread awareness for a dangerous heart condition and collect as much data as possible to help diagnose and treat it in the future.

“Heart for Heart was created with the goal of crowdsourcing millions of heartbeats from around the world because an initiative of such unprecedented scale would transform our knowledge of heart health data and enlighten millions of lives,” Dr. Robert Riezebos, a cardiologist and advocate for this Happitech product, says in the video. Heart for Heart calls itself the world’s largest heart health initiative, with a goal to gain a million heart measurements while better understanding the characteristics of the participants.

The Heart for Heart app can monitor your heartbeat and contribute toward research about Atrial Fibrillation (AF or AFIB), which is the most common heart rhythm disorder. AF is more common than many might realize. According to Heart.org, it affects more than 33.5 million people worldwide. It’s the second leading cause of stroke and is responsible for more than 250,000 sudden deaths in the U.S. An additional 850,000 U.S. residents are hospitalized each year because of the illness.

Those with the condition report feeling as though their heart is beating so hard, it will pop out of their chest—similar to a heart attack or a panic attack. It can also lead to disability, stroke, fainting, heart attack, a number of other heart conditions and death. Unfortunately, a third of those with the disorder don’t know that they have it, and therefore don’t receive proper treatment.

“The problem with AFIB is that it can be very difficult to diagnose,” Dr. Jones de Jong, MD, an electrophysiologist and founder of ECGPedia.org, says in the video. “It can take several hospital visits to make the diagnosis and costs up to $4,000 that takes a huge burden on the healthcare system, and it also means many people may miss out on a diagnosis.”

That’s where Heart for Heart comes in. It gathers information about each user’s heartbeat to help researchers discover cures and create warnings to help the millions who are affected by the disorder. In order to achieve their goal, the makers of the app are asking people to download the technology and monitor their heartbeats for just 90 seconds.

“The goal of Heart for Heart is to speed up the development and accuracy of our technology to help detect heart rhythm disorders,” Yosef Safi Harb, founder of Happitech, said. “In the same way, you donate your money for a good cause, we are asking you to donate 90 seconds of your heart rhythm data.”

The founders of Heart for Heart recognize that success for this technology will require widespread recognition and acceptance of the tech. Millions must download the app and use it daily in order to get enough information to help diagnose and treat AF.

How does this technology work? It’s actually very simple and, as advertised, it takes a very short amount of time. “Heart for Heart works by utilizing the sensors on your smartphone with a revolutionary technology called PhotoPlethysmoGraphy or PPG that can measure your heart rhythm within 90 seconds,” Harb explained.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the app is the PPG tech. It uses light reflected in the blood to measure each pulse. Each pulse will increase the amount of light absorbed in the blood. It’s similar to the way a pulse oximeter works in wearable fitness trackers, except it uses LED instead of infrared light. With this technology, you’re better able to spot heartbeat irregularities.

The app is currently only available for iOS, though an Android version is in the works. All data will be aggregated and made available for both personal use as well as this worldwide study. It compiles information about demographics (age, gender, country, etc.), weight, known health conditions, smoking and lifestyle. Information will be recorded anonymously.

Harb argues that this information will be life-changing. “This technology will help patients to diagnose a heart rhythm disorder, 24/7, without extra hardware and allow them to share the data with their physicians from the comfort of their living rooms. In order for it to be adopted, the smartphone method should be extremely accurate, robust and reliable to minimize false positive and negative results. When the technology is introduced, it will alter the way cardiologists work.”

Happitech

“If you could help save millions of lives in 90 seconds, what would you do?” This is the opening line to a promotional video for the smartphone technology Heart for Heart, created by Happitech. It’s a free app that monitors your heartbeat in a matter of seconds.

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