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Heart Health

A Patch for Tracking Heart Rhythms

Research done at the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego has found that a small adhesive wireless device worn on the chest for up to two weeks does a better job detecting abnormal and potentially dangerous heart rhythms than the Holter monitor that has been the standard of care for more than 50 years.

The findings, which were published and made publically available online by the American Journal of Medicine on January 3rd 2014, suggest that the ZIO Service — which includes the ZIO Patch, data analysis and a diagnostic report provided by device maker iRhythm Technologies of San Francisco — could replace the Holter monitor as the preferred method of tracking electrical heart activity in ambulatory patients.

A release from the institute quotes senior author Eric Topol, M.D. as saying, "This is the first large prospective validation that this new technology superseded the device invented by Norman Holter in 1949. By tracking every heart beat for up to two weeks, the ZIO Service proved to be significantly more sensitive than the standard Holter, which uses multiple wires and typically is only used or tolerated for 24 hours. For millions of people who present each year with suspected arrhythmia, this may prove to be the new standard for capturing the culprit heart rhythm electrical disturbance, most commonly atrial fibrillation which carries a significant risk of stroke."

The ZIO Patch is a Food and Drug Administration-cleared compact, low-profile, noninvasive, water-resistant device that is worn for up to two weeks throughout normal activity and then mailed by the patient to iRhythm for data analysis with a proprietary algorithm.  

The STSI study used electrocardiograph data collected from 146 patients who were fitted with a ZIO Patch and a Holter monitor after being referred to the cardiac investigations laboratory at Scripps Green Hospital for ambulatory heart monitoring.  

Over the course of the study, the ZIO Service detected 96 arrhythmia events while the Holter monitor detected 61. The researchers credited the patch's superior performance primarily to prolonged monitoring.

Physicians who reviewed data from both devices reported reaching a definitive diagnosis 90 percent of the time when using the patch results and 64 percent of the time when using Holter monitor data. A survey of study participants found that 81 percent of them preferred wearing the patch over the Holter monitor, with 76 percent saying the Holter monitor affected their daily living activities.

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