Accuracy of app to track heart palpitations rivals traditional event monitors

A smartphone app that tracks heart palpitations is found to be just as accurate and significantly easier to use than traditional ambulatory event monitors, according to a study by researchers at the University of Buffalo. 

In a two-week study, involving 32 patients with cardia arrhythmias, the researchers discovered that the AliveCor app is not only more accurate, but also that patients are more likely to use it compared to other monitors. Participants used both methods during the study, and the app correctly recorded 91 percent of total events compared to 87.5 percent recorded by event monitors.

"We showed that we can do as well with the app as with the event monitors," Anne B. Curtis, M.D., senior study author and the Charles and Mary Bauer Chair and Professor of Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said in an announcement. "The app is easier for patients to use and much more acceptable to them."

Ease of use is one factor in increasing adoption of mHealth apps. More than one third of mobile phone users with chronic conditions, such as cardiac issues, are leveraging healthcare apps, while 86 percent are interested in using apps to boost their personal health, according to a report in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The University of Buffalo researchers found that 94 percent of patients complied with the app because it was so easy to use, compared to 58 percent with the monitor.

For the monitor, the device is attached via electrodes and worn on the body, and patients press a button to log cardiac event data. The app requires patients to slide a finger into an electrode, connected to the smartphone, during a palpitation event. The data is then uploaded to a server.

"The event monitors require electrocardiographic electrodes to be attached to the patient's skin, which can be irritating," Curtis said. "Then the patient has to wear the device that is attached to the electrodes, which is somewhat cumbersome, and most patients do not like to wear it in public. Hence, compliance is often poor."

For more information:
- read the announcement

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