Atrial Fibrillation (AF) Awareness week takes place between 16th – 22nd November 2020, raising awareness of the most common arrythmia (heart rhythm disorder). In the current covid climate, the ability to maintain diagnotic provision and diagnosis/treatment for AF by sending cardiac monitors directly to patients is crucial, as it reduces the need for hospital visits.
We spoke to expert cardiologists who have seen first-hand how AI powered technologies such as ZIO have revolutionised the way people’s heart rates are monitored, providing a clinically actionable view of a patient’s cardiac activity. In this blog we have provided responses to some key questions surrounding AF Awareness Week from Dr. Mickey Jachuck (Clinical Director and cardiologist at Sunderland and South Tyneside).
Dr. Mickey Jachuck
Is there a need for greater use of technology and innovative methods in diagnosing and treating AF across healthcare?
Yes there is – AF is the commonest heart rhythm abnormality, and can have significant consequences, such as stroke. Many patients are asymptomatic and unaware that they might have developed AF, so diagnosis is often reliant on opportunistic pulse checks and incidental finding when patients are being assessed for other conditions. We recognise that some groups of patients are at higher risk of developing AF, so targeting these patients for more detailed assessment is important to improve our ability to diagnose, and therefore treat, them earlier – in order to prevent complications.
How accurate are current and traditional methods of identifying and diagnosing AF, such as the Holter device?
Holter monitoring has been around for many years and has been the first choice investigation for assessing patients with suspected AF. It provides continuous monitoring from 24 hours up to 7 days, or more. The diagnostic yield does vary, but inevitably is more accurate when the monitoring period is longer. It does however have limitations in terms of compliance and technical quality. Leads can fall off resulting in loss of data collection, and the patient is very restricted whilst wearing the monitor in terms of what activities they can and cannot do.
How do modern technologies, such as iRhythm’s Zio compare?
The Zio patch offers high quality continuous ambulatory ECG monitoring for up to 2 weeks, and is much less restrictive for the patient than Holter monitoring. The monitoring process is very simple, and the data capture is much more complete and less prone to technical issues. Results are processed swiftly and accurately, and the diagnostic yield much greater in comparison with conventional investigations.
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