This new heart monitor app can save your life, study says

A new app is giving heart patients an emergency room in the palm of their hands.

The AliveCor app acts as a “clinical grade” on-the-go EKG monitor, and a there’s a new international study to prove its accuracy.

The findings, presented at the recent American Heart Association’s 2018 Scientific Session in Chicago, showed the app and accompanying pulse monitor was a reliable stand-in for the electrocardiogram (ECG) used in hospitals to diagnose the “most serious — and deadly” heart attacks.

The massive effort was led by the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, and included further research by Duke University, Stanford University, Mayo Clinic, Catholic University (Argentina), the AliveCor Corporation and other heart-health associations and universities.

Researchers administered both a standard EKG and the AliveCor system to 204 participants experiencing chest pain. Typically, an EKG is used to determine if a patient is having a very serious form of heart attack wherein the artery is totally blocked, called an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). They found AliveCor to be effective at detecting both STEMI and non-STEMI heart attacks.

“If somebody gets chest pain and they haven’t ever had chest pain before, they might think it’s just a bug or it’s gas and they won’t go to the emergency room,” said lead researcher Dr. J. Brent Muhlestein in a statement. “That’s dangerous, because the faster we open the blocked artery, the better the patient’s outcome will be.”

To compare: The new Apple Watch Series 4 has one lead, meaning it detects heart attacks from a single source and hospital ECG has 12 leads because the heart attack presents in different parts of the body.

The AliveCor app is equipped with a two-lead attachment, which is then moved around the body to pick up information from all 12 of these parts. It then collects that data into the cloud and sends it to a cardiologist, who can analyze the results on the spot and instruct you to go straight to an ER if necessary.

Its compact package and $99 price tag (or $9.99 per month) make it an especially powerful tool for its accessibility, and could make an important impact in low-income communities and third-world countries.

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