Smartphones are getting smarter all the time, but this time, they are getting healthier as well. There are more than 43,000 apps that focus on health, and heart monitoring apps are among the most popular. The new Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone even has a heart rate monitor built directly into the back of the device. Rumor has it, however, that Apple is trying to take heart monitoring to the next level by even being able to predict heart attacks with their devices. Here’s what you need to know about the latest heart monitoring smartphone tools.

A recent report by the San Francisco Chronicle said that Apple is interested in expanding its product line to medical devices, specifically with sensor technology that can help predict heart attacks. According to an insider, the company hired Tomlinson Holman, a renowned audio engineer who invented THX and 10.2 surround sound, to develop ways of measuring noise as it applies to blood flow. Apple wants to develop devices that can predict heart attacks by monitoring the sound blood makes as it moves through a clogged artery. If the reports are true, it’s possible that the heart attack–predicting technology may be integrated into the iWatch because these reports are consistent with previous rumors that the smartwatches will be health-centric. Expected to launch sometime this year, the iWatch will work alongside the iPhone, which will be equipped with heart rate and glucose level monitoring software.

Speaking of smartwatches, Basis, a wearable health and heart rate monitor, is on the market and has been talking to Google, Apple, and possibly Samsung and Microsoft about a potential sale. Of all the fitness trackers currently available, Basis is said to be the most accurate. The smartwatch has 4 sensors that track heart rate, temperature, perspiration, motion, and more. Basis goes further than data capture by analyzing it and suggesting changes in a user’s daily routine to help create healthy habits. The device can even monitor sleep patterns to help a person get into the habit of a regular wake-up time.

In other news, the FDA recently approved the AliveCor Heart Monitor, a smartphone case that records electrocardiogram (ECG) rhythms that was previously available by prescription only, to be available over-the-counter. The device can come in the form of a smartphone case or can just attach to the back of a phone, and it enables users to record and wirelessly share their ECGs with a cardiovascular technologist to be analyzed within 30 minutes. The device can help patients who feel they may have a heart arrhythmia problem by recording their ECGs any time they feel something. It could also be used for patients who have already been diagnosed with a heart problem and provides a way for physicians to remotely monitor their condition to see whether a prescribed therapy has been effective.

For those who don’t necessarily have a heart problem but still want to be conscious of their health, the latest Samsung smartphone, the Galaxy S5, is equipped with a heart rate monitor built directly into the back of the device. Using it is as simple as placing an index finger on the center of the flash module and holding it there for a few seconds while the app calculates a user’s heart rate. For those of us who do not have a Galaxy S5, there are other apps out there that function in the same way to measure heart rate. One of them is the Instant Heart Rate app by Azumio, which is available for iPhones, Androids, and Windows phones. The app uses a smartphone’s camera to detect the pulse from a user’s fingertip to measure heart rate instantly.

The smartphone is increasingly becoming an all-purpose device, not just for texting or browsing the Internet, but for staying on top of personal health as well. If we can already use our pocket-sized devices for monitoring our heart rates and possibly predicting heart attacks, imagine what the smartphone of the future will be able to do.

Reference

  1. Azumio website. http://www.azumio.com/apps/heart-rate.
  2. Basis website. http://www.mybasis.com.
  3. Dolan B. AliveCor launces smartphone-enabled heart monitor, analysis services direct-to-consumer. Mobile Health News website. February 11, 2014. http://mobihealthnews.com/29801/alivecor-launches-smartphone-enabled-heart-monitor-analysis-services-direct-to-consumer.
  4. Dolcourt J. See the Samsung Galaxy S5’s heart rate monitor in action. CNET website. February 25, 2014. http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13970_7-57619478-78/see-the-samsung-galaxy-s5s-heart-rate-monitor-in-action.
  5. Lee T, Baker DR. Apple exploring cars, medical devices to reignite growth. San Francisco Chronicle website. February 16, 2014. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Apple-exploring-cars-medical-devices-to-reignite-5239850.php.
  6. Suba R. Apple iWatch that can predict heart attacks? Why not? Tech Times website. February 17, 2014. http://www.techtimes.com/articles/3506/20140217/apple-iwatch-that-can-predict-heart-attacks-why-not.htm.
  7. Tsotsis A. Basis in acquisition talks with everyone. Tech Crunch website. February 16, 2014. http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/16/basis-in-acquisition-talks-with-everyone.