Study: Musical scores based on heartbeats could help treat arrthymias

Posted on: December 14, 2017

“A traditional symphony may be performed by brass, woodwinds, percussion and strings, but one scientist believes she’s found another unlikely instrument: heartbeats,” writes Dr. Kat Arney in Tuesday’s (12/12) Daily Mail (U.K.). “This could help doctors diagnose heart rhythm problems in patients. Elaine Chew, a pianist and professor of digital media at Queen Mary University of London, is analyzing heartbeat patterns in patients with rhythm disorders—called arrhythmias—and turning them into pieces of classical music. She believes once heartbeats are presented in a musical score, it is easier to find trends [which] could help doctors recognize subtypes of arrhythmia more accurately…. [She underwent] a procedure to treat her own atrial fibrillation last year, aged 46 [and] asked her cardiologist … if she could have anonymized ECG data from patients at his arrhythmia clinic for a new research project…. She then developed a computer program that converts the peaks in ECG readings into ‘notes.’ … ‘I found the tango rhythm emerging a few times in atrial fibrillation.… Then there is a pattern in ventricular tachycardia that is reminiscent of the main rhythmic figure in Mars from Holst’s The Planets suite,’ [said Chew]…. The idea is [to] make the underlying patterns stand out.”

Posted December 14, 2017