Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
Timely detection of atrial fibrillation is crucial for effective stroke prevention.
"This is the first time that ordinary consumer electronics have achieved such reliable results that they can be actually beneficial for the patient's medical care," said co-author Juhani Airaksinen, Professor of Cardiology from Turku University Hospital in Finland.
"The results are remarkable as intermittent atrial fibrillation is not always detected even at the doctor's office," Airaksinen added.
Detecting atrial fibrillation has been a worldwide medical challenge for years, but affordable solutions available for all have been lacking, the researcher added.
For the study, published in the journal Circulation, researchers studied 300 patients with heart problems, half of whom had atrial fibrillation.
The researchers managed to identify the patients with atrial fibrillation from the other group with a smartphone.
The application developed at the Department of Future Technologies of the University of Turku can detect patients with atrial fibrillation to upto 96 per cent accuracy, the researchers said.
"The results are also significant in that the group included different kinds of patients, some of whom had heart failure, coronary disease, and ventricular extrasystole at the same time," said Tero Koivisto from the Department of Future Technologies.
The application has been under development for quite some time - it took seven years of careful research to achieve it, the researcher said.