App rivals medical ECG in identifying fatal heart attacks

An international study, led by Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, has found that a smartphone app can determine if someone is having an ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction.

STEMI is a heart attack in which an artery is completely blocked, requiring rapid detection and treatment to save a patient’s life.

“The sooner you can get the artery open, the better the patient is going to do,” says J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, lead investigator of the study and cardiovascular researcher at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute. “We found this app may dramatically speed things up and save your life.”

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Intermountain Healthcare

According to Muhlestein, the app from mobile health vendor AliveCor—administered through a smartphone with a two-wire attachment—can take an electrocardiogram instantaneously, send the data to the cloud where a cardiologist can review it and—if a STEMI is found—have the patient rushed to the hospital.

“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," adds Muhlestein. “That’s dangerous, because the faster we open the blocked artery, the better the patient’s outcome will be.”

In fact, researchers discovered that the app has nearly the same accuracy as a standard 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) used to diagnose heart attacks.

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Results of the study, involving 204 patients with chest pain who received both a standard 12-lead ECG and an ECG via the AliveCor app, were presented on Sunday at the American Heart Association’s 2018 Scientific Session in Chicago.

The app was able to accurately differentiate STEMI from non-STEMI ECGs with high sensitivity, compared with a traditional 12-lead ECG, according to the study, which was conducted at five international sites associated with the Duke University Cooperative Cardiovascular Society.

The Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute served as the coordinating institution at which the study’s data was collected and collated.

“We found the app helped us diagnose heart attacks very effectively, and it didn’t indicate the presence of a heart attack when one wasn’t occurring,” concludes Muhlestein.

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