Published January 24, 2019
Anne B. Curtis, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Charles and Mary Bauer Professor and chair of medicine, spoke about the benefits of heart monitor apps for cardiac patients in a presentation at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
The smartphone heart monitor apps are designed to detect cardiac arrhythmias and are proving useful for heart patients under certain conditions, Curtis says.
“Using heart monitors can help patients be more engaged in their health and allows them to work with their physicians to have the best outcomes,” she says.
Curtis, who is also president and chief executive officer of UBMD Internal Medicine, is one of the world's leading clinical cardiac electrophysiologists and an expert in cardiac arrhythmias.
She has played a key role in developing national treatment guidelines for treating atrial fibrillation (AF), a heart rhythm disorder that, if untreated, puts patients at higher risk for stroke.
In 2016, Curtis conducted a study that found that the Kardia Mobile with the AliveCor smartphone app to diagnose palpitations resulted in better compliance among patients than the 14-to-30-day event monitors that have been standard-of-care for monitoring and detecting arrhythmias.
And at the American Heart Association meeting in November 2018, she presented data on a study conducted at nursing homes that found that 7.1 percent of patients with no previous history of AF were found to have it when their heart rhythms were checked with the Kardia Mobile.
Her talk at CES focused on how best to make use of heart monitoring data and was titled “Heart Tech’s Quantum Leap: How Will Physicians Manage the Data?”
In a discussion prior to the CES meeting, Curtis explained that when patients transmit data to her office, her nurse downloads and reviews the data first, followed by her own review and confirmation of the diagnosis reached by the nurse.
“Some patients go overboard and transmit repeatedly every day,” she says. “But that is almost never necessary.”
Curtis adds that once an arrhythmia is captured on an electrocardiogram and a diagnosis is made, there is usually no need for additional heart monitoring for diagnosis alone. Monitoring is useful in some patients to assess whether treatments such as antiarrhythmic drugs or catheter ablation are effective in suppressing arrhythmias.
In some patients, she says, a heart monitor will not prove helpful.
“For example, if you are in AF all the time, there is nothing to be gained by wearing a monitor,” Curtis says.
“We recommend heart monitors for patients who are having palpitations so we can diagnose what the problem is,” she explains. “Sometimes it is atrial fibrillation, sometimes another type of arrhythmia. For patients already known to have AF, it could help detect recurrences.”
The CES panel at which she spoke was sponsored by the Heart Rhythm Society, of which Curtis is a past president.