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Taiwan University Unveils Heart Arrhythmia Detection App

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The rise of healthcare costs due to an ageing population and an increase in chronic disease prevalence will increase pressure for Taiwan’s government to improve the efficiency of care through leveraging technology. As a result, healthcare digitalisation and collaboration between private and public sectors are widely encouraged.

National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) and a tech company unveiled an app to detect atrial fibrillation that better identifies people suffering from the disease. The pulse-detecting app, which allows individuals to place a finger in a cellphone camera lens to measure their heart rate, is the first of its kind in Asia to detect atrial fibrillation. The app can be downloaded free of charge currently, expressing hope that it will become more widely used in general physical examinations nationwide.

Trial fibrillation is a common type of heart arrhythmia most often seen in adults, which can trigger strokes, heart failure and even death in people unaware they have the heart problem. It is not easy to diagnose the disease, but relevant risks can be largely reduced through adequate treatment.

Obesity, high blood pressure, alcohol consumption and smoking are all factors that contribute to atrial fibrillation. Symptoms include heart palpitations, fatigue, dizziness, and breathing difficulties, but around 30% of patients display none of these conditions while 50% experience some of these side effects only occasionally.

Tests have shown that the app has a 95% accuracy rate thanks to its photoplethysmography (PPG) – based technology, which depicts the changing blood volume with a rising curve indicating the heartbeat.

– Lin Ting-tse, Director of the Cardiovascular Centre, NTUH

The app is the first locally developed device to be approved by the  Ministry of Health and Welfare. It is also the first of its kind developed in Asia. Wu said the app can be downloaded free of charge currently, expressing hope that it will become more widely used in general physical examinations nationwide.

According to a page, the app monitors the heartbeat at home, records the current heartbeat value at any time, and understands the changes in people’s physiological functions. The app also records abnormal heart rate information and track the trend of personal heart rate changes.

By detecting and recording the regularity of the heartbeat during each measurement, the app provides self-heart rhythm monitoring. Historical chart tracking establishes home measurement time and health value, and track the changing trend of heart rate information in different periods and different states.

NTUH is also committed to promoting international cooperation. Through such cooperation, we leverage the experience and knowledge from advanced countries and boost the development of Taiwan’s own medical technology.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, a research team led by NTUH developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that speeds up leukaemia diagnosis after completing trials at four medical institutions in Taiwan and the United States.

The trials have conducted assessments and differential counting of bone marrow smears which are used for leukaemia diagnosis. A total of 254 patients were involved in the trials. The diagnosis results using the AI system reached a matching rate of 70-90% with those by a human doctor. The AI system has received approval from Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare and the European Union for marketing as an AI medical device.

NTUH believes that the future of our medicine will be built mainly around holistic and personalised healthcare. Based on humanistic care of better quality, NTUH will be able to appropriately utilise electronic information and biotechnology to form the foundation of our management and raise their service quality to international standards. NTUH has been adapting in the past to the changing times and shifts in the environment by carrying out a series of organisational reconstruction and R&D programs.

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