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Smartphone app proves ‘good as ambulatory monitor’

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A smartphone app that tracks palpitations in heart patients provides comparable performance to the 14-day event monitors that are the current standard of care, according to US researchers.

Patients in the University at Buffalo also study found the AliveCor Heart Monitor app “significantly easier to use” than ambulatory monitors.

The study findings were presented on 4 May at the annual meeting of the US Heart Rhythm Society in San Francisco.

“The app is easier for patients to use and much more acceptable to them”

Anne Curtis

Throughout the two-week study, 32 patients who had had some symptoms of cardiac arrhythmias, were required to use both methods to record when they were having palpitations.

The researchers found the smartphone app correctly recorded 91% of total arrhythmic events experienced by patients versus 87.5% recorded by the event monitors.

With the event monitor, a patient experiencing palpitations must press a button to note they are having symptoms and then indicate what type of symptom it is, either on a paper log or by inputting the information onto the monitor.

Using the app, the patient experiencing palpitations puts a finger from each hand onto the surface of an electrode attached to a smartphone case, which is then uploaded.

Patients were far more likely to be compliant with the smartphone app, the study found, with 94% of patients complying with the smartphone app versus just 58% with the event monitor.

University of Buffalo

Smartphone app ‘good as ambulatory monitor’

Source: Douglas Levere, University at Buffalo

Anne Curtis and co-authors found a smartphone app provided comparable performance to the 14-day event monitors

Senior study author Professor Anne Curtis said: “We showed that we can do as well with the app as with the event monitors. The app is easier for patients to use and much more acceptable to them.”

“The point of the study was to determine whether any smartphone app could be good enough to replace what we normally use now, which is a 14-30 day event monitor,” she said.

In addition, she highlighted the drawbacks to the event monitors that cardiac patients had to wear for two to four weeks.

“The event monitors require electrocardiographic electrodes to be attached to the patient’s skin, which can be irritating,” she said.

“Then the patient has to wear the device that is attached to the electrodes, which is somewhat cumbersome, and most patients do not like to wear it in public. Hence, compliance is often poor,” she added.

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