MONTREAL – A smartphone-based method for quick and inexpensive monitoring for atrial fibrillation in patients hospitalized for a recent acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack identified three times more patients with the arrhythmia than did 24-hour Holter monitoring of the same patients after their hospital discharge.
This high level of atrial fibrillation (AF) detection using a relatively cheap and noninvasive device suggests that this method is a good “complement” to conventional monitoring by a 24-hour Holter recording or an implanted loop recorder in recent stroke patients, as called for in current guidelines of the world’s cardiology societies.
In the study, 294 of 1,079 patients hospitalized for an acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) underwent Holter monitoring, which identified 8 patients (3%) with AF, compared with 25 of these 294 patients (9%) identified with AF while they were hospitalized using serial, 30-second monitoring with thedevice for smartphone assessment of ECG measurement, , said at the World Stroke Congress. Seven of the eight patients identified with AF by Holter monitoring were also found to have AF by the AliveCor device.
Dr. Yan, an interventional neurologist at the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, attributed the higher pick-up rate for AF by monitoring during hospitalization to the timing of screening, which was within days of the stroke or TIA, rather than waiting to run a Holter sometime after the patient left the hospital.
“I suspect the difference in timing explains the difference” in detection, he said in an interview. “The difference may be because we monitored patients [with the AliveCor device] much earlier, during their ‘hot’ period, right after their stroke.”
The trial ran at several centers in Australia, China, and Hong Kong, and enrolled 1,079 patients hospitalized for acute ischemic stroke or TIA who all underwent AliveCor monitoring during their median 4-day stay in the hospital. Patients performed a 30-second heart rhythm check every time a nurse saw them for a routine vital-sign examination, usually three or four times a day. The current analysis focused on the 294 patients (27% of the 1,079 patients) who also underwent 24-hour Holter monitoring following hospital discharge when ordered by their personal physician. This 27% incidence of postdischarge Holter monitoring despite guidelines that call for AF screening in all recent ischemic stroke and TIA patients was consistent with a 2016 review of more than 17,000 stroke or TIA patients in Canada that showed 31% underwent 24-hour Holter monitoring for AF during the 30 days following their index event ( ).
Although AF screening with a smartphone-based device is inexpensive and easy, Dr. Yan stopped short of suggesting that it is time for this approach to replace a Holter monitor or an implanted loop recorder because that is what current guidelines call for. “To change the guidelines, we need a different study that compares these approaches head to head.”
SPOT-AF received partial funding from Boehringer Ingelheim. Dr. Yan has been a speaker on behalf of Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, and Stryker.