This article by Johan du Preez is part of a series on innovative businesses in Stellenbosch’s Techno Park, which appeared in the Stellenbosch newspaper, Eikestadnuus.

“Cardiac diseases are the leading cause of death globally,” says Thys Cronje, managing director of SensiCardiac in Stellenbosch’s Techno Park.

According to Cronje, until recently only experienced doctors and cardiologists were able to diagnose structural heart defects in patients. SensiCardiac has changed this by offering an innovative solution which enables other healthcare workers to record and interpret heart sounds with the same confidence as cardiologists. This allows for early diagnosis of structural heart defects. The SensiCardiac system complies with the American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for cardiac murmur assessments and carries the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

To develop their system, SensiCardiac did research on more than 2000 patients with structural heart defects. Based on the results, they developed an algorithm which, in essence, is a computerised formula for solving a problem, in this case being able to analyse and classify heart sounds. They also developed the software to manage the system.

An electronic stethoscope is used to record the sound of a patient’s heart. This instrument which had been optimized to detect structural defects of the heart, measures 15 seconds of heart sound recordings and sends the data via the internet to the cloud-based SensiCardiac software. The software instantaneously classifies the recorded heart sound as either Class I (possible structural or valvular defect present) or as Class III (an innocent or no murmur present). It furthermore stores a history of the findings.

According to Cronje the general success rate of correctly identifying structural heart defects ranges from around 70% for general practitioners to above 85% for cardiologists. In the case of SensiCardiac, the figure is 90%. 

SensiCardiac was designed so that primary healthcare practitioners such as nurses and physician assistants can perform cardiac assessments with confidence.

The USA is SensiCardiac’s biggest market where legislation makes routine occupational health screening compulsory in many industries.

Cronje’s dream is to see the SensiCardiac system in each urban and rural clinic in South Africa. According to him the reality, however, is that transmittable diseases such as HIV Aids and TB currently receive a higher priority in South African healthcare.

And, once again, what’s happening in the Stellenbosch Techno Park has amazed us. Once more we’ve come across innovative South African entrepreneurs not only with a vision, but with the drive to develop front-line technology that makes a difference globally – whether it’s in rural Africa or in urban America. 


Click here to read the article on the Eikestadnuus website.