Seven months after it won United States Food and Drug Administration approval, St. John’s-based Sparrow Bioacoustics has launched its stethoscope app for smartphones in the United States.

The app, called Stethophone, uses a phone’s internal microphones, along with software processing, to allow the device to function as an ad hoc stethoscope when it is held against a patient’s chest. And in a nod to its intended purpose of monitoring uesrs’ heart health, Sparrow launched Stethophone on Valentine's Day.

So far, the app is only available for Apple devices, and not yet in Canada. South of the border, though, it is approved for use by both doctors and the general public, with both approvals representing industry firsts for smartphone stethoscope products.

“Stethophone embodies our commitment to provide everyone the power, agency and access to fight heart disease right in their own hands,” said CEO Mark Attila Opauzsky in a statement. “Launching on Valentine's Day symbolizes our dedication to heart health and the love and care we invest in our products and the people they serve.”

Valentine’s also marked the five-year anniversary of the day Opauzsky nearly died from a rare medical condition, the statement added, contributing to Sparrow’s decision about the timing of the launch.

The technology behind Stethophone was created by a team of researchers including Sparrow Co-Founder Dr. Yaroslav Shpak, a Ukranian cardiologist.

“Stethophone captures gallops, murmurs and arrhythmias indicative of numerous progressive cardiac diseases,” said Shpak previously. “Heart and lung sounds provide fast and exceptionally rich diagnostic information enabling early detection and quicker treatment.”

It has been a busy several months for Sparrow, which in October also received just under $505,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to hire more staff, as well as gather and analyze more data to improve Stethophone.

And the same month, chief product officer Nadia Ivanovo won Entrepreneur of the Year from the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia.

Trials were conducted at Newfoundland’s Eastern Health Medical Centre, where 70 percent of the medical professionals who tried the app rated it as offering better sound quality than competing products. It also produced higher rates of correct diagnoses.