A stethoscope for modesty’s sake

stethoscope necklace in sterling silver

The heartbeat alone can give so many* insights into a person’s health. Back in the day, Chinese doctors would be able to take the pulse of a patient and make a diagnosis. Today, electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG) are able to show, on a monitor, the electrical impulses made by the heart. Any irregularities can be detected this way. And for those who are pregnant, one of the vital signs that doctors monitor at each check-up and during labor is the baby’s heartbeat.

Before the invention of the ECG, there were two ways to detect someone’s heartbeat: listening to it by pressing your ear up to the chest or taking the pulse. René Laennec, a French doctor, was uncomfortable with the former, especially when it came to women, so the stethoscope was invented. Though current versions are much improved, the stethoscope is basically a heartbeat amplifier. Heart rate is still calculated by finding the pulse in your neck or arm. I’m sure we’ve all done this before in gym or health class!

With all the information ECGs can give us about heart function, machine learning scientists are trying to train computers to evaluate ECGs. This is still a relatively new area of research and one of the problems is that there just isn’t enough training data to feed the machine. But an interesting question arises: will the future of diagnostic medicine be a mix of doctor and machine? Which raises another question: do we trust humans or machines more?

In the heartbeat there are insights to the future of medicine, artificial intelligence, as well as interesting stories about human history and culture (and modesty?). As a necklace, we love the simplicity of the sinus rhythm seen in the ECG. Plus, it pairs well with any of the other cardiac pieces we have. While most conversations about jewelry usually ends with a compliment and a smile, our products start awesomely intelligent (and dare we say, totally geeky) conversations about science and technology.

*Many but not all. Some things require a blood test.


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