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Novel electrocardiogram uses signals from ear and hand to check heart rhythm

March 17, 2019

Lisbon, Portugal - 17 March 2019: A novel electrocardiogram (ECG) method which uses signals from the ear and hand to check heart rhythm is revealed today at EHRA 2011 a European Society of Cardiology (ESC) congress. The ECG does not require two hands and could be used by drivers, athletes, and the military.

Study author Dr Raffaele De Lucia, of the University Hospital of Pisa, Italy, said: "Mobile ECG devices present a major opportunity to detect atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder, and thereby prevent strokes and reduce hospitalisations. All commercially available portable ECG devices require both hands, but what if symptoms happen while driving?"

This is the first study to show that the ear can be used for ECG signal detection. The study included 32 consecutive healthy volunteers (cardiology students and nurses). An ECG was first performed by the standard method, which uses the index and middle finger of each hand. A second ECG was conducted using the index and middle finger of the left hand and a clip attached to the left ear. (See figure.)

All ECGs were printed and analysed by the device and by two cardiologists who were blinded to which method had been used. No differences were detected in the ECG results obtained by the two methods.

Dr De Lucia said: "We have shown how the ear can be used as an innovative anatomical site for ECG signal detection in healthy adults. We are now conducting further studies to validate this method in patients with cardiac arrhythmias."

The authors said the findings pave the way for a new kind of single lead ECG wearable device which leaves one hand free, making it easier to use. In addition to detecting previously undiagnosed atrial fibrillation, the device could be used to evaluate physical performance during exercise, prevent fainting, and check the heart during symptoms including dizziness and breathlessness. Patients already diagnosed with cardiac conditions such as atrial fibrillation could also use it to monitor their condition.
-end-
Figure: An ECG was first performed by the standard method using two hands (left photo) and then by a novel method with the ear and hand (right photo).

Authors: ESC Press Office
Tel: +33 (0)4 8987 2499
Email: press@escardio.org

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The hashtag for the meeting is #ehra2019.

Sources of funding: None.

Disclosures: None.

References and notes

1The abstract 'The in-ear region as a novel anatomical site for ECG signal detection: spontaneous validation study on healthy volunteers' will be presented during the session Best oral e-cardiology abstract on Sunday 17 March at 11:05 to 12:35 WET (GMT) in the Damato lecture room.

About the European Heart Rhythm Association

The European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) is a branch of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Its aim is improving the quality of life and reducing sudden cardiac death by limiting the impact of heart rhythm disturbances. EHRA ensures the dissemination of knowledge and standard setting; provides continuous education, training and certification to physicians and allied professionals involved in the field of cardiac arrhythmias with a special focus on Atrial Fibrillation (AF) and Electrophysiology (EP). EHRA releases international consensus documents and position papers, it is a source of high quality, unbiased, evidence based, scientific information that promotes the quality of care for patients with AF, and for, has also dedicated a website for patients "afibmatters.org".

About the EHRA Congress

EHRA 2019 is the annual congress of the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

About the European Society of Cardiology

The European Society of Cardiology brings together health care professionals from more than 150 countries, working to advance cardiovascular medicine and help people lead longer, healthier lives.

Information for journalists attending EHRA 2019

EHRA 2019 will be held 17 to 19 March at the Lisbon Congress Centre (CCL) in Lisbon, Portugal. Explore the scientific programme.


  • To register on-site please bring a valid press card or appropriate letter of assignment with proof of three recent published articles (cardiology or health-related, or referring to a previous ESC Event).

  • Press registration is not available to industry or its public relations representatives, event management, marketing or communications representatives.


European Society of Cardiology

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