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Medical conditions: Atrial Fibrillation Update

posted Jan 19, 2013, 9:06 AM by Amr Ali   [ updated Jan 19, 2013, 10:58 AM ]
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a chronic heart condition that causes heart palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness in patients and 15% of all strokes.  This rapid and irregular heart beat commonly leads to poor blood flow to the body . There is currently no healthcare delivery platform available for tracking and managing AF symptoms that would decrease exacerbations of the symptoms.  

"The Mayo Clinic estimates that by 2050 at least sixteen million Americans will have it............the #3 killer, or to congestive heart failure from overworking the heart. This lethal cardiac arrhythmia leads to 15 to 20 percent of all strokes in the United States (105,000-140,000 per year). ” 

Mellanie True Hills, heart health expert and author of A Woman’s Guide to Saving Her Own Life: The HEART Program for Health and Longevity  said "doctors often grossly underestimate the impact of atrial fibrillation on patients’ lives. As a former high-tech and high-stress executive, she was paralyzed with anxiety over the risk of stroke during each atrial fibrillation attack, keeping her from driving, flying or traveling far from home, from attending meetings, or from even being alone. Fear took over her life. 'Being cured of atrial fibrillation gave me back my life and freedom,' she says." Original story here.

This is exactly where we feel euMetrica's opportunity lies with helping individuals with AF.  For them, there is a grand importance in having a reliable and robust continuous monitoring system that can give the patient peace of mind while being alone in the house, outside walking or even in the work place.  The continuous alert system will be able to send the patient and the doctor alerts in a timely fashion to help prevent disease complications and help better understand the AF condition on a personal level.  This close tracking of the heart signal (EKG) as well as easily history accessbility gives the doctor greater ability to make informed medical decisions. 

Some people with atrial fibrillation have no symptoms and are unaware of their condition until it's discovered during a physical examination. Those who do have atrial fibrillation symptoms may experience:

  • Palpitations, which are sensations of a racing, uncomfortable, irregular heartbeat or a flopping in your chest
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Weakness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain 

Atrial fibrillation may be:

Occasional: In this case it's called paroxysmal (par-ok-SIZ-mul) atrial fibrillation. You may have symptoms that come and go, lasting for a few minutes to hours and then stopping on their own.

Chronic: With chronic atrial fibrillation, your heart rhythm is always abnormal.

 Current AF Tests:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG). In this noninvasive test, patches with wires (electrodes) are attached to your skin to measure electrical impulses given off by your heart. Impulses are recorded as waves displayed on a monitor or printed.
  • Holter monitor. This is a portable machine that records all of your heartbeats. You wear the monitor under your clothing. It records information about the electrical activity of your heart as you go about your normal activities for a day or two. You can press a button if you feel symptoms, so your doctor can know what heart rhythm was present at that moment.
  • Event recorder. This device is similar to a Holter monitor except that not all of your heartbeats are recorded. There are two recorder types: One uses a phone to transmit signals from the recorder while you're experiencing symptoms. The other type is worn all the time (except while showering) for as long as a month. Event recorders are especially useful in diagnosing rhythm disturbances that occur at unpredictable times.
  • Echocardiogram. In this noninvasive test, sound waves are used to produce a video image of your heart. Sound waves are directed at your heart from a wand-like device (transducer) that's held on your chest. The sound waves that bounce off your heart are reflected through your chest wall and processed electronically to provide video images of your heart in motion, to detect underlying structural heart disease.
  • Blood tests. These help your doctor rule out thyroid problems or other substances in your blood that may lead to atrial fibrillation.
  • Chest X-ray. X-ray images help your doctor see the condition of your lungs and heart. Your doctor can also use an X-ray to diagnose conditions other than atrial fibrillation that may explain your signs and symptoms.
Our wireless EKG monitors could be an alternative to three of the devices/tests mentioned above, namely - EKG, Holter monitor and event recorder.  When the patient takes their EKG reading when they feel palpitations, the euMetrica system will put the data in the cloud and decipher the signals to produce alerts and messages to the doctor and patient depending on the severity of the condition.  This is not a complete replacement of the Holter monitor but it could be a cheaper, faster and an overall better alternative.