Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosed by iPhone App

AliveCor ECG for Atrial Fibrillation

The Research

We are always interested in healthcare developments and exciting new medical apps at Iridia, and recently we came across a study about a new ECG app for the iPhone that looks to be very promising. The study has found the AliveCor ECG Monitor and app for iPhone is a highly-effective, accurate and a cost-effective way to screen patients for undiagnosed atrial fibrillation.

Senior author of the study, Professor Ben Freedman, said that the device was an exciting breakthrough and would greatly improve early identification of atrial fibrillation and stroke.

“The ECG allows us to screen patients for atrial fibrillation in minutes, and treat people early. This is a huge boost in the fight to reduce the amount of strokes, particularly in people over the age of 65,” says Freedman.

Lead author Nicole Lowres mentions that half of those with known atrial fibrillation at the time of screening were unaware of their diagnosis even though many of them were prescribed medication to treat their condition.

Ms Lowres also noted how cost effective screening with the app could be.

“Our economic analysis has shown the AliveCor app is highly cost effective and in fact this is the first mass screening program for atrial fibrillation likely to be cost effective, unlike traditional ECGs,” she said.

The researchers are currently conduction trial screenings in general practice surgeries in Sydney, Australia.

The AliveCor Monitor and App

The app works in conjunction with the AliveCor ECG Monitor, a specialized case/monitor that snaps directly onto your phone. The case can wirelessly communicate with the app on your phone without pairing the two devices.

AliveCor ECG Monitor for Atrial Fibrillation

Once connected, the app detects skin contact on the sensors and when an acceptable connection is made it counts down to begin an ECG recording. When taking a reading, the ECG can be seen on the iPhone screen in real time.

In addition, the ECG is transmitted to a secure cloud server where a specialist can review remotely. The website can automatically analyze the reading to make a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation. Research has found it correctly diagnoses atrial fibrillation 97 percent of the time.

Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm problem and is responsible for almost one third of all strokes and it increases with age, affecting more than 15 percent of people aged 85 years and over. People with atrial fibrillation face up to a five-fold increased risk of stroke, and tend to have more severe and life-threatening strokes.

There are currently a large number of people with undiagnosed atrial fibrillation who are at high risk of stroke, but who are not on any medication. The good news is that stroke is highly preventable with medication and early detection, which can reduce the risk by 66 percent.

Learn more about AliveCor.


March Innovation – the Bant App Could Save Billions

Again our monthly innovation will focus on a smartphone application – the Bant app. Not too surprising, as it seems a new health app is developed daily. We now have apps that can help you review your blood pressure, your glucose level, heart rate and even your brainwaves.

Increasingly, the health industry is turning to smartphones to monitor and help patients with chronic illness, essentially turning our favorite Angry Birds device into lifesaving equipment.

Approximately 80% of Canada’s health-care dollars go to the treatment of chronic illnesses. The big five – diabetes, heart disease, respiratory ailments, cancer and mental illness are expected to cost worldwide health-care $47 trillion over the next 20 years, according to the World Economic Forum.

Fortunately, there are those who are on a mission to tackle the problem of crippling health-care costs, individuals such as Dr. Joseph Cafazzo, the senior director at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation in Toronto.

Cafazzo’s team of 70 experiences doctors, nurses, software engineers and designers are undertaking an immense task – to tackle what ails us, before the conditions become acute and require medical intervention. By keep patients on track through home care and remote monitoring, they believe patients will be less likely to end up in the hospital or on expensive drugs, which will reduce the economic impact on our health-care system.

Bant App

Enter the Bant app (named after Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin), an iPhone app developed by Cafazzo and his team.  

bant app

Bant allows you to simplify your diabetes management, “Diabetes management is a team effort and Bant empowers your team. It makes blood glucose data capture easy and sharing your experience even easier,” says Bant’s website.

Traditionally, diabetic teenagers have presented a challenge to health professionals, since they typically are reluctant actively monitor their blood glucose levels, prick their fingers and take readings.

The Bant app aims to increase usage through gamification (the use of game design techniques into non game contexts) elements that reward teens with iTunes store credits every time they use their glucometer.

About a year ago, University Health Network ran a three-month, Health Canada-approved clinical trial of Bant with 20 diabetics aged 12 to 16. Initial signs were encouraging, participants monitored their blood 49.6% more frequently—from 2.38 to 3.56 times a day, on average (the target is a minimum of four times).


Bant is a constant reminder to young diabetics that they can keep their condition from worsening if they modify their behaviour. Dr. Cafazzo says his team came up with the idea for the app after observing teen patients in the hospital. “No matter how sick these kids were, they still had their phones with them.”

Get Bant from the app store.