Smartphone-based ECG urged for EDs to screen for heart rhythm problems: UK study

A UK study of patients reporting heart palpitations at Emergency Departments (EDs) compared the use of standard care at the ED versus standard care plus the use of a smartphone-based ECG (EKG) event recorder (the AliveCor KardiaMobile) to determine whether symptomatic heart rhythms were present. Often heart palpitations are transitory and triggered by stress or too much coffee, but may indicate a larger problem such as atrial fibrillation which can cause stroke, or other types of cardiac disease.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian conducted the trial over 18 months in 10 UK hospital EDs, with a total patient group of 243. The intervention group was given a KardiaMobile and told to activate it if palpitations were felt, with results sent to a doctor. 69 of 124 reported symptomatic rhythm using the AliveCor device over 90 days versus 11 in the control group of 116. Reporting was over four times faster: the mean detection time was 9.5  days in the intervention group versus 42.9 days in the control group.

The study was funded by research awards from Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) and British Heart Foundation (BHF) which included funding for purchasing the AliveCor devices. NHS England has issued statements included in the BBC News article on how they have issued AliveCor devices to “GP practices across the country as part of the Long Term Plan commitment to prevent 15,000 heart attacks, strokes and cases of dementia.” Retail pricing is US $99 and UK £99. EClinical Medicine (study) Hat tip to the always dapper David Albert, MD of AliveCor

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