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URMC, RIT Receive Grant for Video Monitoring Afib Detection

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With a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) will enroll up to 300 people at risk for atrial fibrillation (afib) to test a new tablet-based video monitoring technology.

The researchers’ goal is to create an inexpensive, easy-to-use detection system that can alert health care providers of the onset of afib, allowing for early treatment. Afib is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure. Because the likelihood of afib increases with age and people are living longer today, experts predict the number of cases will rise dramatically over the next several years. Current estimates suggest it affects more than 3 million Americans.

While it can’t be seen with the naked eye, skin color fluctuates with every heartbeat. The research team developed a technology that uses the camera in tablets to capture changes in heartbeat by measuring subtle variations in skin tone. They will test the technology on individuals with afib who undergo electrical cardioversion or ablation to restore a normal heartbeat. Even after treatment, 20 to 30 percent of patients will have a recurrence of afib. Following their procedures, individuals will be sent home with a tablet that will automatically record facial videos when they read emails, browse the internet or watch videos. Participants will also wear an electrocardiogram patch and compare data to determine how accurate the tablet technology is in detecting afib.

"Our technology is unique because it requires no action on the part of the user aside from what they normally do – go on a tablet to shop, look at pictures, read articles or whatever they like," said Jean-Phillippe Couderc, leader of the study and associate professor of cardiology in the Heart Research Follow-up Program at URMC. "Ultimately, we'd like to develop an app. If you are at risk for afib, you install it on your tablet or phone and don't think about it anymore."

Couderc has conducted a series of smaller studies that confirm that afib can be detected from video of an individual's face. The video monitoring technology was developed in the laboratory of Gill Tsouri, associate professor in the Department of Electrical & Microelectronic Engineering at RIT. Tsouri and Couderc acknowledge that their technology may not be superior to the ECG patch, but it will be much cheaper since it utilizes the standard web camera found in all phones and tablets and doesn't require additional hardware or sensors.

"Many people who have afib don't know it, and that's a big problem because they're at high risk for stroke," said Dr. Burr Hall, associate professor of Cardiology at URMC and a member of the UR Medicine Heart and Vascular team. "With this technology we could screen a large number of people, identify affected patients and prescribe blood thinners to minimize the risk of stroke. This could have huge benefits for public health."

Feb/Mar 2018
Referring to the bandwidth and spectrum location of the signal produced by television or radar scanning.
BusinessBiophotonicsRochester Institute of TechnologyUniversity of Rochester Medical Centerafibatrial fibrillationimagingVideoapplicationcardiologygrantNational Institutes of HealthNIHAmericasRapidScan

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