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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Patient-operated cardiology devices challenge traditional methods

Health Industry Hub | June 29, 2023 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: A pioneering study conducted by clinicians and researchers at Westmead Hospital and the University of Sydney, showcased the efficacy of patient-operated heart rhythm recording devices, known as single-lead ECGs, in identifying various cardiac arrhythmias, rivalling the accuracy of multiday Holter monitoring.

“This study is potentially game-changing for the field of cardiology,” stated Sam Turnbull, a cardiac physiologist and researcher involved in the study. Turnbull, alongside Associate Professor Saurabh Kumar, a cardiologist and electrophysiologist at Westmead Hospital and the University of Sydney’s Westmead Applied Research Centre, spearheaded the research in the Westmead Health Precinct.

The study revealed that patient-operated medical devices are not only capable of detecting a broader spectrum of arrhythmias but also produce comparable outcomes to traditional Holter monitoring methods. This breakthrough has the potential to revolutionise arrhythmia investigations and greatly improve patient experiences.

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Associate Professor Kumar emphasised the accessibility benefits for patients, stating, “Patients can purchase these devices and keep them long term, with ready availability to record their heart rhythm if they are having symptoms, or for general monitoring purposes. Rhythm recordings can then be rapidly forwarded to the patient’s cardiologist or GP for medical review.”

Arrhythmias, abnormal heart rhythms that can cause unpleasant symptoms and be associated with stroke, heart failure, or even death, pose a significant challenge for diagnosis due to their intermittent nature. Presently, Holter monitoring, involving continuous heart rhythm recording over an extended period, is the most commonly used diagnostic method.

However, the new study evaluated the effectiveness of a heart rhythm recording medical device called AliveCor KardiaMobile in a three-part investigation. This device, which connects to a smartphone and can be purchased by anyone, accurately identified a range of arrhythmias and showed comparable outcomes to Holter monitoring. Patients also reported higher satisfaction and a greater sense of empowerment with these patient-operated devices.

“These findings have significant implications for both patients and cardiologists,” said Turnbull. “Patients and healthcare providers can now consider using not only AliveCor but other commercially available, patient-operated single-lead ECGs for arrhythmia investigations. This has the potential to reduce the burden on healthcare facilities and enhance patient experiences.”

The study also demonstrated that heart rhythm experts could accurately interpret a wide range of benign and malignant arrhythmias recorded on these devices, providing evidence for their utility in diagnosing various heart rhythm abnormalities.

Funded by Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Research and Education Network (REN) and The Heart Foundation, the study has been published in the esteemed Journal of the American College of Cardiology, solidifying its significance in the field of cardiac research.

Turnbull highlighted the significance of the study, stating, “This research showcases Australia’s leadership in health research and innovation. As an Australian centre for excellence, Westmead Hospital serves a diverse western Sydney community, and the findings of this study can help alleviate the burden on our healthcare system by increasing accessibility to diagnostic investigations and improving communication between healthcare providers and patients.”

Currently, the research team is planning a second randomised clinical trial to further investigate the outcomes of a patient-operated and controlled heart rhythm monitoring model integrated with expedited clinical review. The aim is to assess the utility, feasibility, and patient experience of this model compared to traditional practices.

With this study, the field of cardiology takes a significant step towards a more patient-centred and technology-driven approach, offering new possibilities for diagnosing and managing arrhythmias effectively. By increasing accessibility to diagnostic investigations and improving communication between healthcare providers and patients, the findings can help alleviate the burden on healthcare systems.

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