The AliveCor Heart Monitor can be a cost-effective method to identify high risk of stroke in adults over 65 years old, according to a recent feasibility study published in the journal Thrombosis and Haemostasis.
AliveCor's heart monitor is available in the form of a smartphone case or a peripheral that attaches to the back of the phone. It sends data to a companion app that stores the device's ECG readings and transmits them to medical professionals for analysis.
Pharmacists screened 1,000 adults at 10 local pharmacies in Sydney, Australia. Pharmacists used the heart monitor to conduct ECG readings that lasted 30 seconds to a minute. These recordings were transmitted through a smartphone to a secure portal where a remote cardiologist interpreted the readings. Cardiologists were able to diagnose new atrial fibrillation (AF) in 1.5 percent of the participants. Those diagnosed were at high risk of stroke even though most had no symptoms, which suggests they were unlikely to have sought out medical advice independently.
"Community screening using the AliveCor Heart Monitor in pharmacies has shown to be both feasible and cost effective in helping physicians identify people with AF, the most common abnormal heart rhythm, which is responsible for a third of all strokes," lead study cardiologist and University of Sydney Professor Dr. Ben Freedman said in a statement. "In many cases AF is not known before a stroke, so screening for AF and treating with effective medications could make an impact on reducing the community burden of stroke."
The study also found that AliveCor's ECG algorithm detected AF with 98.5 percent sensitivity and 91.4 percent specificity.
The researchers estimated that if patients who were diagnosed with AF take a blood thinner medication like Warfarin, they would save over $4,000 for every additional Quality Adjusted Life Year, a measure that combines morbidity and mortality. Researchers calculated this total using a 55 percent medication adherence rate. The medication would also save over $20,000 for every stroke prevented.
In February, AliveCor announced that its smartphone-connected, single-channel ECG (electrocardiogram) recorder device received FDA clearance for over-the-counter use. Before the clearance, AliveCor was only available for healthcare providers. At the time, the company also began taking pre-orders for the device, which costs $199.