Patch with built-in EKG detects atrial fibrillation in …

An EKG recording unit is integrated into the rhythm patch, which continuously records the heartbeat for two weeks. / Information service science, Williamson Adams

Göttingen / Hamilton – A small patch with a built-in EKG device could be suitable for the early detection of atrial fibrillation and thus prevent strokes. This is what scientists from Canada and Germany report in the journal JAMA Cardiology (2021; DOI: 10.1001 / jamacardio.2021.0038).

The irregular heartbeat associated with atrial fibrillation can cause the blood to clump in the atria. If clots get into the brain and block blood vessels, a stroke occurs. Atrial fibrillation is one of the leading causes of stroke in the elderly.

Atrial fibrillation often causes no symptoms and is therefore difficult to detect. 856 people from 48 general practitioners’ practices took part in the study, called SCREEN-AF, between 2015 and 2019. Participants were 75 years or older and had high blood pressure but no known atrial fibrillation.

Around a third of the participants in Germany were reached through general practitioners’ practices that worked with the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) Goettingen and Hamburg work together.
Half of the participants received the rhythm patch, which was stuck onto the chest twice for two weeks each time.

An ECG recording unit is integrated into the rhythm patch, which continuously records the heartbeat for two weeks. The plaster was removed after two weeks and sent in for evaluation. The other half of the study participants received standard medical care. All participants were followed for six months.

The study found that the rhythm patch was well tolerated by the participants and that atrial fibrillation was detected ten times more often. In the rhythm patch group, atrial fibrillation was found in 23 participants, in the control group only in two participants. Of the atrial fibrillation patients, 75 percent received a blood-thinning drug to protect against strokes after the diagnosis.

“The atrial fibrillation episodes that we found were usually several hours long. Blood thinners are generally very effective drugs in atrial fibrillation patients and can reduce the risk of stroke by almost 70 percent. However, the best possible therapy for the patients we have identified has not yet been adequately investigated, ”said co-study director Rolf Wachter.

He is Professor of Clinical and Interventional Cardiology at the University Hospital of Leipzig University. “We hope that if we better recognize silent atrial fibrillation, more people could be treated early and strokes could be prevented,” said Canadian study director David Gladstone from the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and the University of Toronto. © hil / aerzteblatt.de

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