An ECG recording unit is integrated into the rhythm patch, which continuously records the heartbeat for two weeks. / Science science science, Williamson Adams
Göttingen / Hamilton – A small patch with a built-in ECG device could be suitable for the early detection of atrial fibrillation and thus prevent strokes. This was reported by scientists from Canada and Germany in the journal JAMA Cardiology (2021; DOI: 10.1001 / jamacardio.2021.0038).
The irregular heartbeat in atrial fibrillation can cause blood in the atria. When clots enter the brain and block vessels, a stroke occurs. In the elderly, atrial fibrillation is one of the leading causes of stroke.
Atrial fibrillation often causes no symptoms and is therefore difficult to detect. 856 people from 48 GP practices participated 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 by general practitioners working with the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) in Göttingen and Hamburg.
Half of the participants received the rhythm patch, which was applied to the chest twice each time.
An ECG recording unit is integrated into the rhythm patch, which continuously records the heartbeat for two weeks. The cast was removed after two weeks and submitted 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 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 diagnosis.
“The atrial fibrillation episodes we found were usually several hours long. Blood thinners are generally very effective medicines in patients with atrial fibrillation 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 researched, ”said co-study director Rolf Wachter.
He is Professor of Clinical and Interventional Cardiology at the University Hospital of Leipzig. “We hope that if we better recognize silent atrial fibrillation, more people could be treated early and stroke could be prevented,” said Canadian research director David Gladstone of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and the University of Toronto. © hil / aerzteblatt.de