Advances in technology are happening at lightning speed. This is true in virtually every field, and this includes plenty of advances for monitoring heart rhythms for afib patients. In the recent past, new devices have been introduced that give individual patients the ability to monitor and record their own medical quality EKG’s using small personal mobile devices. The results can then be displayed either on the device itself or on a variety of related portable devices. The data can then be stored in memory, in the cloud, or printed out in hard copy form. Results can even be electronically transmitted to a physician or clinic for evaluation.
In the past, individual monitoring of heart patterns meant your physician must outfit you with a device such as an implantable loop recorder. These instruments are implanted under the skin and record and transmit a patient’s heart rhythms to a central unit. In this way, arrhythmias can be continually monitored, and any irregularities can be observed. Other approaches use newer, much smaller devices called implantable cardiac monitors which also track heart activity. These particular devices are much more comfortable than the loop recorders and are easier to implant and remove. While these devices provide the electrophysiologist with excellent data, for the patient, they are both inconvenient and costly.
With advances in technology, a new group of tools has been added to those already available. The new devices are small, portable units available over the counter, can fit in a pocket, and allow a patient to self-monitor their heart rate activity at any time. They are relatively inexpensive (generally about $80 – $125), can be purchased in stores or online, and can be synched with Smartphones, tablets, or computers.
One example of this type device is the Kardia Mobile manufactured by AliveCor. While many tools on the market accomplish the same results, the Kardia is a clinical grade device, carried in the patient’s pocket, is FDA cleared, and is able to capture a medical-grade EKG in 30 seconds, anywhere, anytime. The information obtained can be displayed on a phone, a tablet, sent electronically to a physician, or stored in the cloud.
Other companies have developed approaches allowing patients to produce an EKG without even having to carry a separate device. The Apple Watch Series 4 has received FDA clearance for EKG monitoring. By placing your finger on the watch’s crown, an EKG can be generated. Results of a study conducted at the University of California at San Francisco, involving 1617 people, found that the watch predicted afib in 72% of patients with an irregular heartbeat. Also, afib was detected with a 97% success rate using the Apple Watch in another study of 51 people.
Aside from the advantages of convenience, cost, and off the shelf availability, this type of device gives afib patients the added benefit of providing an early warning that something is wrong. With these new portable devices, individuals can self-monitor, learn to read the warning signs, transmit results to their doctor, and obtain treatment earlier than ever before.
To discuss the advantages of portable EKG monitoring devices, call for an appointment at Arrhythmia Centers of America. Dr. Shanti Bansal, Houston’s top electrophysiologist will be pleased to discuss the use of these devices or any other aspect of afib. Whether you are an afib sufferer, suspect you may have afib, or merely want to keep your heart healthy, Dr. Bansal will evaluate your condition, review all diagnostic findings, and explain any treatment options if needed. He will also discuss and recommend the use of any handheld EKG monitors that could compliment your treatment plan. To schedule an appointment, you should call our offices and speak to one of our staff. Get a head start on afib treatment and avoid more severe problems down the road, 832-478-5067.