Healthy tech to keep your heart in check

6 July 2017

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An estimated 1.2 million people in the UK are living with atrial fibrillation, one of the most common forms of abnormal heart rhythm and one of the major causes of stroke, according to the British Heart Foundation. 

One piece of technology being used to detect and manage atrial fibrillation is Kardia Mobile by AliveCor, which was recently shortlisted for the AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards. Kardia Mobile allows you to check your heart rhythm regularly and find out in just 30 seconds if things are normal or if you should seek medical attention.

The technology works by the user placing their fingers on metal sensors that are smaller than a credit card, providing a high frequency sound and receiving the signal via the phone or tablet’s microphone. It records an ECG (electrocardiogram) which is then sent to a smartphone app which analyses the findings. Traditionally, a patient would visit their GP or rush to A&E when having palpitations, as they can be very severe, even if you don’t have a heart condition.

Self-management of conditions

Francis White, VP Sales & Business Development at AliveCor, explains that Kardia Mobile brings the concept of self-care alive. “The Kardia Mobile app displays “Normal” to the 85% of people feeling heart symptoms. The other 15% who don’t have a normal reading have a rhythm strip (the image that is generated from heart rhythm) that they can share with their doctor who can use it for a diagnosis, often remotely.”

Francis explains that some patients don’t see their doctor as frequently as they should and struggle to remember symptom histories. “With the advent of self-monitoring, patients can have actual data trends that can inform a much more complete review of their health, or disease, status,” he says.

Keeping your finger on the pulse

Kardia Mobile Premium enables users to store unlimited ECG recordings and access other connected devices with the smartphone app. This includes measuring blood pressure, weight and activity, providing a broader overview of an individual’s health to share with their clinician, allowing modifications that may reduce symptoms and even disease burden. 

“As this technology is connected via a smartphone, this can reduce visits to surgeries and facilitate a more normal lifestyle,” adds Francis.

Impact of the Health Tech & You Awards 

Shortly after the AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards in April this year, new user sign up rates for Kardia Mobile were 30% higher than in February.

Following on from this success, AliveCor have been developing a Kardia Band, which fits on to the Apple Watch to instantly detect atrial fibrillation as well as monitoring normal heart rhythm. The metal sensors on the back of the Kardia Strap are activated through the app, much like the original Kardia Mobile gadget, also allowing you to record audio to note your current symptoms.

Additionally, NHS England is continuing to move forward with plans to equip GPs with mobile ECGs, and given free choice, nearly 90% chose Kardia Mobile. This deployment is planned for early August.