The heart is a pump that is powered by electrical impulses. They cause the heart muscle to contract and pump blood through the aorta into the body. In a normal situation, those electrical impulses are fired at a regular pace. But how do you know if your heart beats at a regular (read: healthy) rhythm?
ECG: how the cardiologist measures your heart rhythm
Your doctor or cardiologist checks your heart rhythm with an electrocardiogram or ECG. This is a simple and painless examination. Ten electrodes that are attached to your body map the electrical currents that drive your heart.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) maps the electrical impulses of your heart.
PPG: how FibriCheck measures your heart rhythm
FibriCheck uses a different measurement technique. Our medical application does not focus on the electrical impulses themselves, but on the effect that your beating heart has on your blood vessels. With each heartbeat blood flows from the heart in the blood vessels. These waves of blood put pressure on the blood vessel walls and cause them to stretch temporarily. So with each pulse / heartbeat, the diameter of your blood vessels ‘enlarges’, in between two beats the blood vessel ‘shrinks’ back to its original size.
The FibriCheck app illuminates your fingertip with the flash of the camera of your smartphone and measures the difference in light absorption over time. When the blood vessels are filled with blood right after a heartbeat the absorption will be high. In between heartbeats the amount of blood in the vessels decreases and absorption will be lower. The result of this measurement is called a photophlethysmogram or PPG.
The big advantage of this technique is that all you would need to check your heart rhythm is a smartphone with a camera and flash. So no need to buy additional hardware or devices.
A FibriCheck photophletysmogram (PPG) measures the expansion and contraction of the blood vessels with each heartbeat.