Embedding ECG sensors to a supermarket cart (trolley) handle as ‘first-line’ screening for atrial fibrillation

Not coming soon to a supermarket near you, but an interesting test at Sainsbury’s in Liverpool. The 2022 study by a team from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) was designed to move atrial fibrillation (AF) screening closer to everyday routines. At least one weekly routine is to go to the supermarket.

In the ‘SHOPS-AF’ study first/proof-of-concept phase designed in 2022, the LJMU team installed a single-lead ECG designed by them, the MyDiagnostick, into the cart (US)/trolley (UK) handles at four local Sainsbury’s with pharmacies. This idea is similar to the pulse monitor handle that you find in most sport treadmills. The study over the past two months recruited 2,155 adult shoppers who used the carts and placed hands on the equipped handles over the 60-second monitoring time required to get an accurate ECG. About 220 were ‘red-lighted’–an irregular heartbeat was picked up by the sensor in the handle that alerted the in-store pharmacist, who then took a manual pulse measurement and a static control sensor reading. Of the 220, it confirmed AF in 59 individuals–26%. 20 already knew they had AF, meaning that 39 did not know. The average age of the 59 participants with atrial fibrillation was 74 years and 43% were women. To the positives, the pharmacist offered a cardiologist consultation referral.

The results suggested to the LJMU team that results in phase 1 were not very accurate, and the second phase required a more accurate diagnostic tool. Accessibility and acceptability were favorable. Ian Jones, one of the researchers and a professor at LJMU said, “Nearly two-thirds of the shoppers we approached were happy to use a trolley, and the vast majority of those who declined were in a rush rather than wary of being monitored.” The second phase of the study would also give a designated spot to place the hands continously and halve the time of the ECG to 30 seconds based on ESC (European Society of Cardiology) guidelines.

The results above were presented at the ACNAP (Association of Cardiovascular Nursing & Allied Professions) Congress 2023 in Edinburgh on 23 June (session listing). European Society of Cardiology (ESC) release, Interesting Engineering, Manchester Evening News  Study proposals: abstract and full text in PubMed.

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