Grocery carts can tell researchers who might be at risk for stroke – and 39 shoppers have been diagnosed

Grocery cart with sensor to predict strokes -Liverpool John Moores University (photo video)

Supermarket trolleys in Liverpool, England, were fitted with sensors capable of identifying people at risk of stroke and dozens of volunteer participants were diagnosed.

Atrial fibrillation, or Afib, is a common heart rhythm disorder that causes blood clots to form in the heart and can cause shortness of breath and extreme fatigue with simple household chores.

More than 40 million people worldwide suffer from atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk of stroke fivefold, but it is a disorder that can be detected by a simple pulse check.

2,155 adults volunteered to take part in the study, organized by a team from Liverpool John Moores University. Professor Ian Jones sought to test the possibility of giving people health checks in public without disrupting their daily routines.

“In two months, we identified 39 patients who were unaware they had atrial fibrillation. 39 people at higher risk of stroke received an appointment with a cardiologist.

Jones enlisted the help of the University’s engineering department who modified the carts, adding electrocardiogram (ECG) devices built into the handles. The light would display red if an irregular heartbeat was detected; otherwise it remained green.

The team rolled out the trolleys (seen in the video below) to shoppers who volunteered to participate at four supermarkets across the city, including Sainsbury’s and Lloyds Pharmacy stores. They walked the aisles of the supermarket after being asked to hold the bar for at least 60 seconds before letting go.

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An in-store pharmacist then performed a manual pulse check and a second sensor reading, this time using a stand-alone bar not attached to a cart, with the participant remaining still.

“Almost two-thirds of shoppers we approached were happy to use a cart,” said Jones, lead author of the study’s report presented at a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Edinburgh yesterday. “The vast majority of those who refused were in a hurry, rather than wary of being watched.”

“It shows that the concept is acceptable to most people and deserves to be tested in a larger study.”

During the SHOPS-AF study, a cardiologist reviewed the data of any volunteer with a red light or irregular pulse. Participants were informed of the results and those whose ECG was unclear received an invitation to repeat the measurement. Those confirmed to have Afib were given an appointment with a cardiologist within two weeks, courtesy of the UK healthcare system, NHS.

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220 participants had either a red light on the sensor and/or an irregular manual pulse check, but only between a quarter and half of them were officially diagnosed as having atrial fibrillation – and Jones has ideas for adjustments that need to be done for the system to be more accurate.

“For example, having a designated position on the bar to hold onto, as hand movement was interfering with readings.

“Additionally, European Society of Cardiology guidelines only require a 30-second ECG to diagnose atrial fibrillation, so we’re aiming to find a sensor that will cut the time buyers need to hold the helm in half. constantly.”

Blood thinners greatly reduce future risk of stroke, but too many people don’t find out they have the disease until it’s too late. Screening programs like this could identify vulnerable people so they can be treated.

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“Detecting atrial fibrillation while people are doing their regular errands holds promise for preventing strokes and saving lives,” Jones says.

A crucial aspect would be to provide immediate access to a medical professional who can explain the results.

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