Sherlock Holmes While You Sleep

Fingertip device detects heart disease while you sleep

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

That is why it's important to diagnose the disease early. According to a new study, attaching a device to people's finger while they sleep can easily identify those at risk of heart disease.

Researchers found that a special type of pulse oximeter - a device normally used to detect sleep disorders and measure the amount of oxygen in the blood - can be used to identify people who face a high risk of heart disease.

The device - which is placed on the finger while a person sleeps - provides a simple way to measure various parts of a person's vascular health.

"A new device easily measures a person's risk of heart disease."

According to Ludger Grote, associate professor at the Center for Sleep and Vigilance Disorders at the Sahlgrenska Academy, the information gathered by the device indicates a person's risk for heart disease just as much as their history does 'on paper.'

The device works by measuring five components of the signal from the finger: pulse wave attenuation, pulse rate acceleration, pulse propagation time, respiration-related pulse oscillation, and oxygen desaturation.

In a pilot study of 148 people, the device detected more than 80 percent of patients who were at high risk of heart disease.

Grote and colleagues are currently working on a prototypes for a portable device that can be used clinically.

Until then, more research is needed to confirm this study's results and to make sure the device accurately detects risk of heart disease.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 5, 2011
Last Updated:
April 7, 2011