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Detecting anomalies in heart rythm

Researchers in Germany have developed a new risk assessment methodology to detect any anomaly in heart beat rythm and patient's risk of cardiac death.

ECG is the basic data with which patient's risk of cardiac death can be determined and analysed by the computer.The time interval between successive heartbeats is the first variable to be calculated.// When the programme has completed its analysis, it outputs atleast three characteristic values describing the heart rythm to cardiologists.

Regular checkups and ECG tests help doctors to decide whether patients require treatment with drugs to combat arrhythmia or may be implant a defibrillator, a device similar to a pacemaker, which operates only when the heartbeat starts to get out of step.

Mathematicians at the new Fraunhofer Institute ITWM together with a private service company, developed a new method called alphacardio in order to overcome the problems experienced with the test. Many of the programmes in use today only look at the linear relationship between data.

The approach is to use model of non-linear dynamics, which describe heart rhythm- as an open complex system. This gives a better chance of detecting temporal changes in heartbeat rhythm and placing them in the context of the individual patients' health.

The reliability of its prediction has been tested in collaboration with practising physicians at the major hospital in Ludwigshafen. Comparisons were made with an earlier study of ECG data on 600 patients who had suffered a heart attaack, and the predicted risk was compared with the fate of these patients. According to physicians the results are very promising and effective.


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