Tags: Heart Disease | stethoscope | gone | alternative | smartphone

So Long, Stethoscope?

So Long, Stethoscope?
(Copyright DPC)

By    |   Thursday, 12 November 2015 01:49 PM

The iconic stethoscope may soon go the way of Dr. Marcus Welby. That’s the implication of new research by Orlando Health that found a smartphone-based device known as HeartBuds performed as well as traditional stethoscopes in identifying heart murmurs.

The portable device is slightly larger than a quarter and less cumbersome than the iconic stethoscope, which has essentially been unchanged since it was firs invented nearly 200 years ago by a French physician.

"They not only detect sounds inside the body just as well — or better — than traditional stethoscopes, but they are more sanitary," said Dr. David Bello, department chief of cardiology at Orlando Health, and developer of HeartBuds. "And because they incorporate smartphone technology, we can now record, store and share those sounds as well. This could change the way we approach patient exams in the future."

With HeartBuds, doctors use a portable plastic listening device shaped much like the head of a traditional stethoscope that is plugged into a smartphone. When the app is activated, sounds from the hand-held device can be played through the phone’s speaker and images appear on the screen showing rhythmic blips that correspond with each sound.

A study, comparing the effectiveness of HeartBuds to three other stethoscope models, was presented this month at the American Heart Association's 2015 Scientific Sessions held in Orlando.

For the study, doctors examined 50 patients and compared the performance of HeartBuds to two stethoscopes, as well as a commonly used disposable model.

Results of the study showed that the HeartBuds smartphone-based device performed just as well as the more expensive and more commonly used stethoscopes in detecting heart murmurs and sounds in the neck that indicate moderate to severe blockage of the carotid artery.
"Though trained healthcare providers are the only ones who can use HeartBuds as a diagnostic tool, they do have many other uses," said Bello. Patients with chronic illnesses like COPD and heart failure, for example, can use them to monitor their conditions at home.

"They can take a recording of their heart and lungs at home, upload them and send them to their doctor, who can evaluate them without the patient ever leaving home if it's not necessary," said Bello. "Really, the possibilities are endless and the future of this technology is just now coming into view."

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The stethoscope may soon go the way of Dr. Marcus Welby. A new study found that a smartphone-based device known as HeartBuds performed as well as traditional stethoscopes in identifying heart murmurs.
stethoscope, gone, alternative, smartphone
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2015-49-12
Thursday, 12 November 2015 01:49 PM
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