Using smart speakers to identify signs of a heart attack and cardiac arrest

Smart speakers, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, are becoming commonplace in many homes and they can be used in many different capacities. With the ability to store information, set alerts and timers, smart speakers and the technology behind them become household calendars, diaries, entertainment systems and much more.

Family members can ask questions, request music, issue instructions and place shopping orders. The voice recognition technology is sensitive to a level where it can pick out different people’s pitch and tone and account for regional accents and slang.

So, it’s a natural extension of the smart speaker technology to use it for medical purposes.

“Alexa, remind me to take my medicine at 6pm.”

“Alexa, I have a doctor appointment next Wednesday at 9am.”

Alerts are set, timers go off.

However, using the “always listening” capability of the smart speaker, if you were to say “Alexa, monitor my heart” then the technology will soon be able to activate a specific listening level, looking for unusual patterns in your breathing and, crucially, raising an alert if a problem is suspected.

This is because heart attacks and cardiac arrests often occur in places outside of a hospital. One of the most common locations for a cardiac arrest is at night in the bedroom and this can happen without anyone awake or able to provide care. If you are knowledgeable and confident in performing CPR you can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

“Agonal breathing is a biomarker of cardiac arrest.”

Smart speakers can passively listen for signs of agonal breathing, where a person experiences low levels of oxygen and makes gasping, guttural, noises. These audio biomarkers are unique to agonal breathing and are a key diagnostic symptom of cardiac arrest.

If the smart speaker detects agonal breathing it can activate an immediate alert response, for example sounding an alarm, phoning a family member or contacting the emergency services. A patient experiencing cardiac arrest may be unconscious, so it is vital to give CPR and/or use a defibrillator as soon as possible to get the person’s heart beating normally.

The science to provide this service comes from data collected from 911 calls to Seattle’s Emergency Medical Services. Calls where people witnessed cardiac arrest were recorded and the sound of the agonal breathing was given to the smart speaker technology. This was then used to develop learning patterns and reduce false positives comparing agonal breathing with normal breathing patterns. The result created a tool to detect agonal breathing 97% of the time when the smart speaker was within a 6m proximity.

“Home-based technology helps protect family members.”

With the number of cardiac arrests on the increase, having home-based technology to monitor and protect family members is a foreseeable addition to smart speaker technology. Potentially this will be extended to the smart watches of the future, which can already monitor our heart rates and fitness levels.

We never know when we may be called on to perform emergency medical treatment so having an understanding of basic first aid skills, knowing how to use a defibrillator and how to perform CPR on an adult or a child, are essential skills we recommend everyone should have.

Essential 6 specialise in providing first aid training that works and is focussed to your needs. For more information about our training courses please call 0845 272 3558.

2019-10-07T16:06:26+01:00
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