Smartphone app may replace heart palpitation monitors

Offering heart patients, who need to monitor their rapid or irregular heartbeat, an easier solution, researchers have found promise in a palpitation tracking smartphone app that provides comparable performance to the 14-day event monitors that are the current standard of care.

In this study, the researchers evaluated the efficacy of AliveCor Heart Monitor smartphone app.

“We showed that we can do as well with the app as with the event monitors,” said senior study author Anne Curtis, professor at University at Buffalo in New York, US.

“The app is easier for patients to use and much more acceptable to them,” Curtis noted.

One of the drawbacks of event monitors is that cardiac patients have to wear them for anywhere from 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,” Curtis explained.

“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,” Curtis noted.

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 that the AliveCor Heart Monitor smartphone app correctly recorded 91 percent of total arrhythmic events experienced by patients versus 87.5 percent recorded by the event monitors.

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