MindMics finds in-ear monitor surpasses ECG in assessing cardiac arrhythmia

They say the surest path to a person’s heart is through their stomach, but according to MindMics, it might actually be through the ears.

The Massachusetts-based startup’s technology uses in-ear monitors to pick up on heartbeats and other measures of cardiac blood flow, and a new study suggests that it outperforms even the most advanced electrocardiogram monitoring in the process.

MindMics’ SoundPoint tool collects sound waves produced by the body through a pair of earbuds—even as music is playing. Those waves are translated into a comprehensive picture of a person's heart health, including measurements of heart rhythm, blood volume in veins and arteries and valve performance.

The earbuds can also be worn throughout the day to assess how those measurements are impacted by the wearer’s daily activities.

RELATED: Medtronic nets heartening FDA nod for AI algorithms to detect afib, arrhythmia

Results of a clinical trial presented at the Heart Rhythm Society’s annual meeting found that SoundPoint was able to measure interbeat interval—or the time between each heartbeat—with 99% accuracy, a rate equal to that of ECG monitors.

SoundPoint was shown to go even further than ECG technology, however, with its ability to collect other cardiac data that can be used to build algorithms for even more accurate detection of atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias.

In the study, 15 afib patients with a variety of arrhythmias and 15 patients with normal sinus rhythms were recruited to wear the earbuds for 20-minute periods.

The stereo earbuds also form a triangle across the heart and the brain, allowing the wearable monitor to provide precise data that could help assess the health of both organs, according to MindMics' chief medical advisor, Charles Bridges.

RELATED: Fitbit launches broad virtual AFib study using all its heart-tracking devices

And by recording continuous sound waves and uploading them to the cloud for analysis, the system can sample hundreds of data points per second, compared to other wearable devices that may only take a cardiac measurement every few minutes. The company's device has not yet been cleared by the FDA and is available in the U.S. for investigational purposes.

Analyses are also provided through MindMics’ Hear&Now smartphone app, which lets users see their heart rate, respiratory rate, stress levels and more, as well as receive guidance through breathing exercises and other recommendations to improve their heart health.