At the hospital I volunteered at last August there was a cardiologist who has been to Germany a couple of times. I really enjoyed talking to him since he was very experienced and always found time to answer the questions of the students at the hospital. One morning we were talking about how the medicine of the future will be like and all of a sudden he became very excited. He took his phone out of his pocket and I could hardly believe what was attached on the backside: a thin, chic ECG – the AliveCor Heart Monitor. After a very impressive demonstration of the gadget recording his heart activity (you just have to place your fingers on the electric contacts) via electrocardiography I decided to order such a “machine” myself. Since then I have been testing and experimenting with the AliveCor Heart Monitor.
Electrocardiography is the process of recording the electrical activity of the heart muscle fibers and adding them up. This is possible because the pumping of the heart is generated by the electrical stimulation coming from the sinoatrial node (the natural pacemaker of the heart). This electric pulse is stimulating the heart muscle cells via an electrical conduction system. With this examination method you don’t get information about how much blood is effectively being pumped in a certain amount of time (therefore you often need further examinations, e.g. ultrasound). Nevertheless an ECG gives us some very helpful information about our heart activity. We are not only able to detect the heart rate, heart rhythm, atrial activity, position of the heart etc. but also possible medical issues.
I have been trying the AliveCor Heart Monitor on a lot of people and am very surprised on how accurately this device detects atrial fibrillations and extrasystoles. The “error” shown in the picture above pops up in case the AliveCor algorithm detects an atrial fibrillation. This algorithm even managed to obtain admission for clinical use by the Food and Drug Administration.
Quite a few doctors are already using this mobile ECG sparing their patients countless doctor’s appointments. On the other hand that also relieves a lot of cost pressure from the healthcare system. Dr. Traub, Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at St. Luke’s University Health Network, has been using the gadget for two years now and is experiencing it as a great option for everyone who doesn’t want a surgical alternative. When his patients feel irregularities in their heart rhythms they can simply record it wherever they are and send it to Dr. Traub via e-mail. (Source: www.mdnews.com)
The only problem about this mobile solution is that only two electrodes are being used. That allows only a less detailed analysis compared to a classical 12-lead ECG which is medical standard for a cardiac examination.