AliveCor: Medical grade smartphone ECG targets stroke risk

The only thing most people have heard of when it comes to heart health are heart attacks, says AliveCor VP and NHS Fellow, Francis White, when I meet him at a café in Holborn, London. But the heart has an “electrical system” as well as a “plumbing system” and problems with the former often lead to strokes.

“Electrical faults are either intermittent or they’re very sudden,” he adds. Which means heart arrhythmias – or abnormal heart rhythms – can prove fatal and are estimated to kill 100,000 annually in the UK alone.

AliveCor’s Kardia Mobile, was devised by Dr David Albert who previously worked at GE Medical Systems, and provides a medical grade, smartphone-enabled ECG system that can provide an accurate heart reading in 30 seconds [YouTube video]. This is far quicker and less invasive than anything currently available in most medical surgeries worldwide. It also considerably cheaper and easier to use.

In a breakthrough announcement this June, NHS Chief Simon Stevens said that AliveCor would become one of the small cohort of proactive ‘consumer’ devices to be adopted by the service in 2017. This included another app, MyCOPD, which helps patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) to self-manage their condition via a mobile device.

“The crisis of spending has helped us,” says White, who has been working at AliveCor for three years and slowly gained traction with respected organisations like the Royal College of General Practitioner (RCGP), via high profile journal studies and through positive usability reports from patients. “The NHS woke up and realised they spend £2.2 [$2.9] billion annually on arrhythmia and stroke patients.”

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