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Mobile app monitors heart palpitations as well as larger devices

The app was more accurate than standard devices, and far more patients complied with their doctors' requests to use them, in a study comparing the two.

By Stephen Feller
Mobile app monitors heart palpitations as well as larger devices
Rather than require patients to carry heavy devices attached to electrodes on their bodies, researchers have designed a smartphone app that allows doctors to monitor heart palpitations while making it easier for patients to comply. Photo by Hriana/Shutterstock

BUFFALO, N.Y., May 5 (UPI) -- Rather than require patients to carry heavy devices attached to electrodes on their bodies, researchers have designed a smartphone app that allows doctors to monitor heart palpitations while making it easier for patients to comply.

The AliveCor Heart Monitor smartphone app uses sensors on a phone case to monitor heart palpitation events, allowing the phone to record heart information and upload it for review by a patient's physician, according to a presentation by University of Buffalo researchers at the 2016 Heart Rhythm Society conference.

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Patients often have to wear monitors for two to four weeks in order for their doctors to diagnose and treat a heart palpitation or related condition. The monitors are heavy, however, and often people often do not wear them as much as they need to.

The AliveCor Heart Monitor smartphone app can be installed on an iOS or Android device, however, and if a person is having a heart palpitation, they press a button on the phone, place their fingers on two sensors on the back of a specially-designed phone case and the app records and sends data to a secure server for doctor review later -- a much easier process for everyone involved.

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"The event monitors require electrocardiographic electrodes to be attached to the patient's skin, which can be irritating," Dr. Anne Curtis, a professor of medicine at the University of Buffalo, said in a press release. "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."

In a study two-week study with 32 patients, the researchers found the app recorded 91 percent of arrhythmic events correctly, compared to 87.5 percent of events recorded by the standard event monitor.

As important as its accuracy was that 94 percent of patients using the app complied with their doctors requests for monitoring, compared to just 58 percent with standard monitors.

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"We showed that we can do as well with the app as with the event monitors," Curtis said. "The app is easier for patients to use and much more acceptable to them."

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