The EKG smartphone apps that are saving lives

EKG smartphone appsCC: Devon Janse van Rensburg at Unsplash

Have you considered using an EKG smartphone app? According to a study from Edinburgh University, doing so could save your life. The study analyzed outcomes among 240 patients who experienced signs of an irregular heartbeat. According to the researcher’s findings, using an EKG smartphone app could have a significant impact on the care you receive.

How do EKG smartphone apps work?

If you’ve ever been subjected to an EKG you’re probably familiar with the tangle of wires and complicated readings. Apps such as AliveKor KardiaMobile remove many of the trickier features. However, they’re still accurate and they’re incredibly user-friendly.

Using a fingerpad that doesn’t require gels and patches, AliveKor can detect conditions such as Atrial Fibrillation (AF). This EKG app works well with most IoS and Android devices. Although it can’t read more complex signs such as Left Bundle Branch Block, it can do the following:

  • Detect AF and send the results to your physician
  • Track your blood pressure and weight
  • Store EKG recordings on a cloud database
  • Produce customized monthly reports
  • Monitor certain medications

What did the study reveal?

The study in question focused on the use of EKG smartphone apps among 240 patients who attended an ER setting with symptoms of AF. These symptoms included dizziness and palpitations, which can suggest that the condition isn’t being controlled. Just over half of the patients were provided with EKG software and advised to activate it if they experienced the symptoms again. The remaining patients were advised to see their family doctor or return to the ER if their symptoms returned.

During the 90-day analysis period, 56% of patients who used an EKG smartphone app received a formal diagnosis. In contrast, only 10% of those advised to monitor their symptoms without an app received the same care. This suggests that using an app could increase the speed and accuracy of AF detection.

Why are EKG smartphone apps useful for detecting AF?

One of the major barriers to successfully diagnosing AF is that you may experience symptoms and then arrive at your local ER to find that they’re no longer there. Unless the physician treating you can see the signs of AF on your EKG, they can’t give you a diagnosis. EKGs are excellent tools for detecting arrhythmias, but they only offer a snapshot of what’s happening with your heart at that moment in time. As a result, they won’t show your physician what happened before or what happened later.

Until the use of EKG smartphone apps, one way to overcome this was to offer 24-hour monitoring. Unfortunately, it isn’t unusual for the signs of AF to disappear for longer than 24 hours. When it’s left untreated, AF can result in a clot that then significantly increases your stroke risk.

When you use an EKG smartphone app and activate it when your symptoms return, you’re more likely to capture the evidence you need. In contrast, waiting until you arrive at an ER and receive an EKG could produce a false negative.

As these apps are both cost-effective and easy to use, there’s a strong chance they’ll revolutionize the AF diagnosis process. If they prevent a stroke, using one could even save your life.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.