An international study has found that AliveCor’s smartphone app has nearly the same accuracy as a standard 12-lead ECG in monitoring heart activity and determining if someone is having an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI).
The study led by researchers from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City followed 204 patients with chest pain, who received both a standard 12-lead ECG and an ECG through the AliveCor app, which is administered through a smartphone with a two-wire attachment.
A STEMI myocardial infarction is a heart attack caused by a total blockage of one of the heart’s major arteries. The researchers found that the app with the wire set-up was effective in distinguishing STEMI from not-STEMI ECGs accurately and with high sensitivity compared to a traditional 12-lead ECG. Brent Muhlestein, M.D., co-director of cardiology research at Intermountain Health Care, presented the data at the 2018 American Heart Association’s 2018 Scientific Session Nov. 10-12 in Chicago.
Use of the app could hasten the urgent treatment a patient needs after experiencing a STEMI, according to Muhlestein. “If somebody gets chest pain and they have not ever had chest pain before, they might think it is just a bug or it is gas and they will not go to the emergency room,” he said in a prepared statement. “That is dangerous, because the faster we open the blocked artery, the better the patient’s outcome will be.”
The app by the Mountain View, Calif. company can take the electrocardiogram on the spot, send the results into the cloud where a cardiologist reviews it immediately and, if a STEMI is found, tell the person so they can be rushed to the hospital.
The second key benefit is that the price of the app with the two-wire extension is low, which could put the power of an ECG into the hands of anyone with a smartphone or smartwatch, and make ECGs accessible in places like third world countries where people have smartphones but where expensive ECG machines are hard to find, if they’re available at all, he added.
Many people using treadmills wear a simple device that can detect their heart rate via a single ECG lead, which is more accurate than just checking the pulse. “It is a simple jump from there to putting it on a smartphone, and then recording the same ECG lead from several body positions,” Muhlestein said.
The new Apple 4 smartwatch also comes with a single-lead ECG. With the AliveCor app, the two wire leads are moved around the body in order to record all 12 parts.
The FDA cleared AliveCor’s KardiaBand electrocardiogram device for the Apple Watch, designed to monitor for early signs of atrial fibrillation, in November 2017.