May 15, 2015 — A new, large-scale study has found adding an electrocardiogram (ECG) to the latest generation of body-worn sensors accurately detects atrial fibrillation (AF) and significantly increases awareness of heart rate and behavior. Body-worn or wearable wireless sensors are increasingly being used to help collect health-related information that can be shared with a doctor through a smartphone application. The study results show that by using ECG sensors with a smartphone application, the general adult population can efficiently track their heart rate data. The new findings were presented at Heart Rhythm 2015, the Heart Rhythm Society’s 36th annual scientific sessions.
More than 36 million Americans currently use body-worn sensors for activity and heart rate tracking and the trend is on the rise. This population is expected to grow to 135 million by 2018. Additionally, AF, the most common heart arrhythmia, affects more than 2.7 million American adults and its presence is increasing rapidly. In the next 30-40 years, the number of people diagnosed with AF in the United States is expected to more than double. This increased access to heart rhythm data will be even more important as the prevalence of AF grows.
Study participants were provided with a smartphone-enabled ECG sensor from AliveCor and had their ECG and heart rate data evaluated over a six-month period. The device records a 30-second ECG and wirelessly transmits the recording to a secure cloud-based server. Participants were also asked to download a mobile software application that facilitated ECG acquisition and access to ECG interpretation.
More than 800 study participants transmitted 57,703 ECGs during the six-month period. Chronic health conditions were reported by 113 participants and only 21 participants were taking any medication. AF was detected in 185 recordings in 93 unique subjects (11 percent). After 30 days of use, the majority of participants (73 percent) stated they were more aware of their heart rate and behavior.
“Having an ECG device on smartphones is quite incredible because it makes tracking heart health and behavior accessible to almost anyone. The experience of using an ECG device through a smartphone creates opportunities for people to truly pay attention and understand their heart rhythm,” said lead author Leslie A. Saxon, M.D., executive director of the University of Southern California Center for Body Computing. “Not only does using these type of smartphone apps allow the patient to be more informed, but it also allows their physician the ability to access and analyze real-world data which can ultimately help improve treatment and overall quality of care.”
As use of body-worn sensors and health tracking smartphone applications increases, the ability to chronicle and store the population’s ECGs will lead to greater understanding of cardiac behavior and heart rhythm disorders like AF. Heart rhythm is dynamic and the portability and wireless connectivity of smartphone-enabled ECG devices will provide unprecedented public access to screening, diagnostic and monitoring data.
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