Facial Features Can Determine Your Heart Health: Study

   |  Updated: August 31, 2014 12:17 IST

Facial Features Can Determine Your Heart Health: Study
Your face can hide a million mysteries but science has established that it can tell you about your heart condition. According to a recent research published online in the journal 'Heart Rhythm', facial features can reflect whether or not a person is experiencing atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a condition where a person experiences abnormal heart rhythm associated with palpitations, chest pain, fainting and congestive heart failure.

Experts explained that a combination of web camera and software algorithms developed by Xerox Corporation Ltd can help demonstrate changes in skin colour, that is usually imperceptible to naked human eye. These imbalances in the facial skin tone can help in detecting the uneven blood flow caused by atrial fibrillation.

"This technology holds the potential to identify and diagnose cardiac disease using contact less video monitoring," said Jean-Philippe Couderc, University of Rochester's heart research follow-up program.

Researchers studied the role and functioning of digital cameras in detecting the change in skin colour and also how changes in skin tone can further be mapped to detect the heart health. Sensors in digital cameras are designed to record three colours: red, green and blue. Hemoglobin - a component of blood - absorbs more of the green in the spectrum of light and this subtle change can be detected by the camera's sensor.

During the study, participants were simultaneously connected to an electrocardiogram (ECG) so that the results from the facial scan could be compared with the actual electrical activity of the heart.The researchers found that the colour changes detected by video monitoring corresponded with an individual's heart rate as detected on an ECG. It was also noted that the video monitoring technique called videoplethymography had an error rate of 20 percent, comparable to the 17 to 29 percent error rate associated with ECG measurements.

"Essentially, the irregular electrical activity of the heart found in people with atrial fibrillation could be identified by observing the pulses of blood flowing through the veins on the face as it absorbed or reflected green light with each heart beat," Couderc explained.

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