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Thursday 27th October 2016

iPods used to train doctors

28th March 2007

Medical students and doctors in the United States are being issued with mp3 recordings of heartbeats to play on their iPods, to train their ears to distinguish between normal heartbeats and common murmurs.


This skill with a stethoscope is crucial for doctors to acquire, and yet isn't always attained to a very high standard.

A study presented at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting showed how medical students who used mp3 files of heartbeats significantly improved their stethoscope abilities.

Lead investigator Michael Barrett, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine and cardiologist at Temple University School of Medicine and Hospital, set out to test the technique on practicing physicians.

During a single 90-minute session, 149 general internists listened 400 times to five common heart murmurs including aortic stenosis, aortic regurgitation, mitral stenosis, mitral regurgitation and innocent systolic murmur.

Previous studies have found the average rate of correct heart sound identification in physicians is 40%. After the session, the average improved to 80%.

Since the release of Barrett's first study with medical students, the demand for recordings of heart sounds has been intense. Thanks to a partnership with the American College of Cardiology, Barrett's heart sounds can now be accessed online and are available on CD.


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