Atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF) is a condition that causes an irregular heartbeat rhythm. The irregular beats can cause decreased blood flow, and raises the chance of blood clots forming. Patients with AFib are at increased risk for a variety of other complications, including stroke and heart failure. The patients can switch back and forth between normal and irregular rhythm, which can make it difficult to diagnose the problem if it is not caught on an ECG during an office visit. Some patients may feel a “fluttering” heart beat, but others may not notice when they are out of rhythm. More than 2.7 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the condition.
The results of a new, large-scale study of heart rhythms were announced at the recent Heart Rhythm Society’s 36th Annual Scientific Sessions in Boston. More than 800 subjects were given an ECG sensor for a smartphone from AliveCor for a six-month period. Over the study period, more than 57 thousand ECGs were submitted by the participants. After the first month of the study, nearly three out of four subjects reported that they were now more aware of their heart rhythm than they had been before participating in the research.
The study detected AFib in 185 ECG recordings, submitted by 93 different test subjects. The massive amount of data collected not only helps identify AFib in individual subjects, but also provides more information that could lead to improved screening, diagnosis, and monitoring of irregular heartbeats. As ECG data collection is included in more and more consumer wearable Health Tech devices, more people will have this type of condition identified and treated before it can lead to other complications.