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Phone App Effectively Identifies Deadly Heart Attacks, Study Finds


Could your smart phone really save you from a heart attack someday? Recent research suggests that it can — if you have the right app on your mobile device, that is.

A November 2018 study, presented at the American Heart Association’s 2018 Scientific Session in Chicago, found that the AliveCor app has nearly the same accuracy identifying the most deadly heart attack as a standard 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG), which is typically used to diagnose heart attacks. The deadly heart attack in question is called a ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI). It is the most serious kind because it involves a major artery being completely blocked. 

In the study, researchers analyzed 204 patients with chest pain who had received both a standard ECG and also an ECG through the AliveCor app. (In the case of the app, the ECG is administered through a smartphone with a two-wire attachment.) Sure enough, the app was effective at telling STEMI heart attacks apart from other heart problems with high sensitivity. Researchers say the new findings about the revolutionary app are particularly important because the speediness of treatment after a STEMI is crucial to saving a person’s life.

“The sooner you can get the artery open, the better the patient is going to do. We found this app may dramatically speed things up and save your life,” said lead investigator J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, in a press release. “We found the app helped us diagnose heart attacks very effectively — and it didn’t indicate the presence of a heart attack when one wasn’t occurring.”

Even more impressive is the app’s ability to do an ECG on the spot, send the results to a cardiologist who can review it instantly, and then alert the person if a STEMI is found. All of these factors can help give the person a much higher chance of getting to the hospital on time if needed.

“If somebody gets chest pain and they haven’t ever had chest pain before, they might think it’s just a bug or it’s gas and they won’t go to the emergency room,” said Dr. Muhlestein. “That’s dangerous, because the faster we open the blocked artery, the better the patient’s outcome will be.”

If you or someone you love is concerned about heart health, talk to a medical professional about this app. You can never be too careful!

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