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Phone app recognizes heart attacks with accuracy of an ECG

Photo Credit: alivecor.com
The design of the smartphone ECG setup was inspired by treadmills
by TR Pakistan

Researchers from the Intermountain Medical Center (IMC) Heart Institute in the United States have found that a newly developed smartphone application known as AliveCor can detect serious heart attacks almost as accurately as an ECG.

The application’s focus is on detecting a particularly lethal kind of heart attack known as an ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI). This is a kind of attack in which a major artery is completely blocked, and can lead to death or disability in a very short period of time. This is what makes the application so significant, as speed of treatment delivery is critical for saving lives after a STEMI heart attack.

“The sooner you can get the artery open, the better the patient is going to do. We found this app may dramatically speed things up and save your life,” said J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, lead investigator of the study and cardiovascular researcher at the IMC Heart Institute.

Read more: New device heralds a step forward in wearable healthcare gadgets

In the study conducted at IMC, 204 patients with chest pain received a standard 12-lead ECG and an ECG through the AliveCor application with a two-wire attachment. It was found that the application could accurately distinguish STEMI from non STEMI ECGs. According to Dr. Muhlstein, the application also never indicated the occurrence of a heart attack when one wasn’t taking place.

The phone and two-wire attachment setup also seems simpler than the standard 12-lead ECG method. Traditional ECGs require attaching 12 leads to a patient. The location of each of these leads is highly important because they track the heart’s electrical activity in different places. With the AliveCor application however, the two leads can be moved around each of these locations. According to the AliveCor website it takes the application 30 seconds to record an ECG.

This new ECG setup was inspired by treadmills. People using treadmills wear a device that can detect their heart rate through a single ECG lead. “It’s a simple jump from there to putting it on a smartphone, and then recording the same ECG lead from several body positions” said Dr. Muhlstein.

The AliveCor application costs $99 and is compatible with both Android and iOS. According to the application’s official website, it has recorded over 30 million ECGs.

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