In the event of impending heart problems, early detection allows for swift and appropriate action which can significantly reduce harm to the health. In the past, a visit to the hospital was necessary to diagnose heart-related problems. The difficulty remains that any heart abnormalities can only be detected when the electrocardiogram (ECG) is taken at the time of discomfort.

Smartphones and apps can be important tools to help manage healthcare. The low-cost software programs and ability to obtain a real-time ECG is essential and can help patients better manage their disease at home and avoid costly hospital admissions.

A new device and application created by Dr. Dave Albert and AliveCor, has recently been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sale. The device uses electrodes embedded into a standard phone case to measure electrical signals in the fingertips.  These signals are then transmitted via the phone’s microphone to the AliveCor app on the patient’s phone.  This device then allows the patient to record, share and upload their ECG tracing for analysis by their physicians.

The AliveCor device has many practical applications for patients, including monitoring heart rhythm during periods of symptoms. This correlation of real-time heart rhythm with symptoms is often the critical step in helping physicians make a diagnosis.

“Let’s take advantage of what technology has to offer and provide patients and physicians with the tools they need to expedite care and improve outcomes” – says Dr. Kevin Campbell, assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at University of North Carolina.

References

1. Dr. Kevin Campbell. Real-time ECG from your fingertips. 2014.

2. http://www.heartronics.com.my/WhatECGDetect.html

3. http://www.alivecor.com/home

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