Apple Watch Spots AFib

The software update which allows the Apple Watch 4 to take an EKG and to detect atrial fibrillation went live last week. In anticipation of the availability of these functions, I purchased an Apple Watch 4.  As soon as the software was available, I downloaded it and have used it every day since. So far, I am quite pleased with my purchase.  The technology works very well, even despite the fact that I have an implantable pacemaker/defibrillator.

The strip it takes looks like this:

EKG Picture Apple WAtch

You can send a strip via email to your doctor, and all are saved for posterity on your Iphone.  (NOTE:  YOU MUST HAVE AN IPHONE CAPABLE OF RUNNING THE SOFTWARE IN ORDER TO USE THE WATCH).

And, as long as you tell the software that you have never been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, if it detects atrial fibrillation while you wearing the watch, it will send you an alert.  I haven’t gotten such an alert yet and hope not to!

This article provides a pretty accurate history of handheld consumer EKG devices along with a description of what it is like to download and use the Apple software.

And here is a story about a man whose watch spotted his previously undiagnosed Afib. After a trip to the emergency room, he was able to receive proper treatment and avert a potential health crisis.

 

Could Your Fitbit Detect AFib?

The same Fitbit you wear to count your steps may soon have an additional purpose:  it could detect atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat which could cause a stroke if not properly treated.  Yet, it often goes unnoticed by a person experiencing it.

According to this story in Time, Fitbit is  developing software which would enable its existing trackers to detect afib, and thus allow time for appropriate action before it is too late.

This technology could be of great benefit to heart patients.  Not only does the Fitbit encourage you to exercise, it might just save your life!

Aspirin May Cause More Harm than Good in Afib

According to new research presented at last week’s meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society, aspirin is not effective in preventing strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation, and in some instances may actually do more harm than good.

Note that previous studies have demonstrated that aspirin is not effective in preventing strokes from Afib.

In fact, the study, led by Dr. Jared Bunch from Intermountain Healthcare system, Salt Lake City, UT, found that patients who were prescribed aspirin following catheter ablation procedures to treat atrial fibrillation were significantly more likely to suffer gastrointestinal or genitourinary bleeding than those who took other anticoagulants like warfarin, or those who received no treatment at all.

For more, see these articles from  Medical News Today  and Science Times (with link to video).

 

Catheter ablation useful for AFib in HCM

A recent article published in Heart looked at the safety and effectiveness of catheter ablation for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation in patients with HCM by performing a systematic review of prior publications on the subject.

The researchers concluded that even though the success rate for HCM patients was approximately half that of patients who suffered from AFib but did not have HCM, catheter ablation is still an effective treatment for HCM patients;  especially for those HCM patients who suffer from paroxysmal AFib and who have smaller atria.

Better Screening and Treatment Necessary for Atrial Fibrillation

 

An August 20, 2016 article in The Lancet points out that many physicians do not effectively screen for or properly treat Atrial Fibrillation. Furthermore, aspirin, which is often given as a treatment for A-fib, is insufficient to prevent stroke.

If A-Fib is detected, treatment with anti-coagulants is essential.

Unsuspected AFib Detected in HCM Patients

A recent retrospective study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology found that atrial fibrillation (AF) occurred for the first time in 16 of 30 patients (53%) of patients with implantable devices being followed at the center conducting the study.

Of the patients experiencing AF for the first time, 14 of 16 (88%) of the patients were not aware of having experienced any clinical symptoms.  As patients age, AF appears to be a common consequence of HCM.  Patients may be caught unaware and unprepared, so monitoring is especially important.