Cell phone application accurately identifies potentially fatal heart attacks, study says.
Researchers believe that application could help people in countries without access to exams like the traditional electrocardiogram.
Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute is able to identify heart attack accurately
Can your smartphone determine if you are having the most serious – and deadly – form of a heart attack? A new study says it can – and can be a valuable life-saving tool.
The international study, led by researchers at the Heart Institute’s Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, USA, found that a smartphone application to monitor heart activity and determine if someone is having a myocardial infarction has almost the same accuracy as an electrocardiogram (ECG) 12-lead standard, used to diagnose heart attacks.
Myocardial infarction is a heart attack in which the artery is completely blocked.
Researchers say the findings are significant because the speed of treatment after a heart attack of this kind helps save lives.
“The sooner you can open the artery, the better the patient will be. We found that this application can dramatically speed up processes and save your life,” said J. Brent Muhlestein, lead author of the study and cardiovascular researcher at the Heart Institute Medical Center Intermountain.
In the study, 204 patients with chest pain received a standard 12-lead electrocardiogram and one through the AliveCor application, which is administered through a smartphone with a two-wire accessory.
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The researchers found that the wire setup application is effective in distinguishing myocardial infarction with precision and high sensitivity compared to a traditional 12-lead electrode.
We found that the application helped us diagnose heart attacks very effectively – and did not indicate the presence of a heart attack when it was not occurring – J. Brent Muhlestein, lead author of the study
A myocardial infarction is a very serious type of heart attack during which one of the main arteries of the heart – which supplies oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the heart muscle – is blocked. The st-segment elevation is a detectable abnormality on the 12-lead electrocardiogram.
The researchers presented the results of the study at the 2018 Scientific Session of the American Heart Association in Chicago.
The researchers conducted the study at five international locations associated with the Duke University Cooperative Cardiovascular Society, with the Heart Institute of Intermountain Medical Center acting as the coordinating institution where they collected and compiled data.
The idea for this type of electrocardiogram setting may have arisen from the use of treadmills for personal development of physical fitness, Dr. Muhlestein said.
“Many people who use treadmills use a simple device that can detect their heart rate through a single electrocardiogram lead, more accurate than just checking the pulse. It’s a simple jump from there to put it on a smartphone, and in the record the same electrocardiogram of various body positions, “he said.
A typical echocardiogram has 12 leads, which improves the accuracy of a diagnosis because heart attacks occur in different parts of the heart, and each receiver examines a different part. With the AliveCor application, the two cables are moved around the body to register all 12 parts.
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The findings of the study are important for two reasons, according to Dr. Muhlestein.
“The first is that it can accelerate the urgent treatment that the patient needs after suffering a myocardial infarction.” The American Heart Association recommends ‘balloon time’ – or the time when a patient enters the hospital until a catheter with a balloon at the tip is inserted into the patient’s blocked artery, inflated to flatten the plaque against the artery wall – is less than 90 minutes, “he explains.
“If someone feels chest pain and has never had chest pain before, you may think it’s just a minor problem or gas and you do not go to the emergency room,” Muhlestein said. “This is dangerous because the faster we open the blocked artery, the better the patient’s outcome.”
The application can take the electrocardiogram to the site, send the results to the cloud where a cardiologist immediately examines it and, if a myocardial infarction is found, notify the person so that it can be taken to the hospital.
Secondly, the price of the app with the two-wire extension is low, which could put the electrocardiogram in the hands of anyone with a smartphone or smartwatch and make the exams accessible in places like third world countries where people have smartphones but where machines for the electro are expensive and difficult to find.