Posted on April 17, 2023
In the US, 1 in 18 adults are battling some form of arrhythmia. Afib or atrial fibrillation is the most prevalent type, possibly affecting over 6 million Americans, going by CDC estimates. In reality, you’re likely to experience an arrhythmia at least once in your life, but you may not even know it until it develops into a more serious condition. To ensure proactive rather than reactive care, cardiac arrhythmia monitoring is always seeking to capitalize on the twists and turns of technological evolution. As we experiment and expand the boundaries of innovation, so too does heart monitoring technology advance. So what new cardiac arrhythmia monitoring technologies are defining 2023? Here are some groundbreaking innovations:
A conversation around emerging technologies in arrhythmia monitoring simply wouldn’t be complete without touching on artificial intelligence, with the health AI market valued at over 11 billion globally. That’s according to facts and figures from Statista.
Assessing electrocardiograms can be an overwhelming process for physicians, more so if there’s a lot of data to work with, in line with the patient load. Other factors could also hamper ECG interpretation accuracy ranging from:
1. Technician competence
2. Experience level
3. Technician fatigue
4. Lead placement and much more
To shore up ECG scoring, minimize the risk of error, and ensure desired outcomes, artificial intelligence is also assisting with ECG interpretation. These machine-learning models have been trained on mountains of data from past ECG strips. They have become adept at picking out patterns and identifying arrhythmias through computer vision.
Augmenting human expertise, AI-driven classification engines are providing categorization assistance for ECG technicians to ensure more convenience, time efficiency, and accuracy.
When it comes to the conventional remote cardiac monitoring service, we have particular categories of devices dependent upon criteria such as duration of monitoring. For long-term purposes, physicians may turn to event monitors, typically providing service for up to 1 month, for those hard-to-detect arrhythmias that occur sporadically or asymptomatically.
In cases where arrhythmias are more frequent and visible in terms of symptoms, a holter monitor is usually more ideal. These devices can give technicians an overview of the heart’s electrical activity for a period between 28 and 48 hours.
Traditionally, these two different use cases have meant imploring different devices for long and short-term monitoring needs exclusively. Now, multifunctional gadgets such as Cardiac Rhythm’s heart biosensors are changing the situation. With these new-age models, you get both a real-time event recorder and a holter monitor. The best of both worlds compacted into just one singular solution.
There’s a lot of talk about how modern technology can be put to work to detect underlying arrhythmias. Instead of an after-the-fact approach to cardiology care, artificial intelligence is also been leveraged to predict the likelihood of an arrhythmia, long before there are any visible symptoms or tell-tale signs.
A while ago, researchers built a deep learning model and then trained it on over 147,000 x-rays from more than 40,000 study subjects. In the study published in the RSNA, the algorithm could predict one’s likelihood of dying from a cardiovascular event, after taking into account unique factors such as:
1. Blood pressure
4. Age and more
Now, predictive analytics are being put into action to predict Atrial Fibrillation, one of the most dominant types of arrhythmias. To be able to do so, these machine learning models train on imaging and laboratory data, queering these databases to identify risk factors and offer a prediction. In the long run, this would mean early interventions and a lower risk of hospitalisation.
Let’s stop and think for a moment about how conventional remote patient monitoring solutions work, particularly from the patient side. The patient typically wears ECG wearables and sometimes has a key role to play by triggering data capture in case of a cardiac event.
But soon, we may have smartphones taking the place of these RPM devices, helping to directly capture patient data via in-built sensors within this gadget. For example, certain apps allow iPhone users to track heartbeat by sound via the phone’s microphone and eventually map out a pattern.
What’s more, a study by the University College London also validated the use of smartphones for arrhythmia identification, and in particular Afib, via a technique called photoplethysmography. However, the use of smartphones for arrhythmia monitoring is still a work in progress and is far from the finished product. There would be a need to augment findings with secondary (and proven) monitoring solutions.
Previously, we had mentioned that improper lead placement is one of the causes of inaccurate ECG readings. This situation is actually quite dire especially as far as the typical 12-lead ECG goes, with Sage Publications revealing that 5 in 10 nurses misplace leads V2 and V1. The consequences have included the incorrection recognition of problems such as:
1. Brugada syndrome
2. Ventricular hypertrophy
3. Anterior myocardial infarction
4. Ischemia and others
To combat improper electrode placement, researchers have unveiled the Cardiovit FT-1 ECG system. Now, technicians can rely on a 3-D depiction of the upper body to correctly place each lead. The illustration includes different color codes and markings, with the ability for users to rotate the image to get a good angle of where every lead needs to go. Moreover, it also displays ideal lead placement dependent on the exact nature of the examination.
Even in the case of improper placement, the system has safety measures to write the wrongs, offering notifications of improper placement should it arise. This technology is a tremendous step up from the 2-D black-and-white visualization that precedes it.
As artificial intelligence moves from strength to strength and other present-world technologies keep on evolving, we can be sure there’s much to expect in cardiology monitoring in the coming years. For now, these are the emerging technologies reshaping arrhythmia monitoring in 2023. If you’d like to stay steps ahead of the future of arrhythmia monitoring, be sure to regularly check our blog to stay ahead of the curve. Should you require a heart performance monitoring service for your care facility, contact Cardiac Rhythm today