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New iPhone device could help prevent strokes

A special iPhone case and app has been developed that can quickly and cheaply detect heart rhythm problems and prevent strokes.

That’s according to University of Sydney research presented to the recent Australia and New Zealand Cardiac Society conference on the Gold Coast.

The research found that AliveCor Heart Monitor for iPhone (iECG) is an effective, accurate and cost-efficient way to screen patients and identify previously undiagnosed atrial fibrillation (AF), and hence prevent strokes.

Furthermore, the test can be used in local pharmacies and GP’s surgeries with a single-lead ECG taken on an iPhone with a special case.

According to Professor Ben Freedman, the gadget is a breakthrough that can greatly assist in the challenge to improve early detection of atrial fibrillation and prevention of stroke.

“Atrial Fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm problem and is responsible for almost one third of all strokes,” he said.

“AF increases with age, affecting more than 15 percent of people aged 85 years and over. And people with atrial fibrillation face up to a five-fold increased risk of stroke and tend to have more severe and life-threatening strokes.”

Professor Freedman also claimed that 1.4 per cent of people aged over 65 years – or 50,000 Australians – have atrial fibrillation but are not aware of it. Those people are at risk of stroke but are currently not taking any medications for their condition.

“The iECG allows us to screen patients for atrial fibrillation in minutes, and treat people early,” Professor Freedman said.

When taking a reading, the iECG can be seen on the iPhone screen in real time. In addition, the iECG is transmitted to a secure server where a specialist can review it remotely. The website can automatically analyse the reading to make a diagnosis of AF.

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