Video-Based Pulse Measurement System Could Help Diagnose Cardiac Disease

MIT researchers have developed an algorithm that measures the heart rates of people pictured in regular digital video by analyzing imperceptibly small head movements that accompany the rush of blood caused by the heart's contractions. Their algorithm has given pulse measurements consistently within a few beats per minute of those produced by electrocardiograms (EKGs). It has also provided useful estimates of the time intervals between beats, a measurement that can be used to identify patients at risk for cardiac events. This system could be useful for monitoring newborns or the elderly, whose sensitive skin could be damaged by frequent attachment and removal of EKG leads. The technique could also measure cardiac output, or the volume of blood pumped by the heart, which is used in the diagnosis of several types of heart disease.