AliveCor smartphone ECG as good as standard Holter monitor: Study

AliveCor's smartphone-based ECG

AliveCor brought on a former Google exec last year to run the company. Now, it may be on the path to the data it needs to make its smartphone-based ECG recorder the standard-of-care for patients with undiagnosed heart palpitations.

Recent data suggest that the AliveCor device could be used as a first-line approach to detection, before or instead of the Holter monitor--with its many inconvenient lead wires--by cardiologists to monitor symptomatic cardiac patients. A study from University at Buffalo researchers presented data at on May 4 at the Heart Rhythm Society conference in San Francisco, CA, found that the AliveCor ECG monitor is non-inferior to a standard Holter monitor.

"AliveCor provides a diagnostic yield comparable to an ambulatory event monitor. A smartphone-based ECG monitor can be used as a first approach for the diagnosis of palpitations," concluded the researchers led by Dr. Deepika Narasimha.

Holter monitor

In patients already wearing the standard Holter ambulatory event monitor that had not been successfully diagnosed, the AliveCor device was added. Both devices were used simultaneously for 14 to 30 days. The 23 enrolled patients had recorded arrhythmic events totaling 481 from the Holter monitor and 542 from the AliveCor monitor.

The AliveCor device successfully yielded a diagnosis of overall rhythm disturbances in 91% of cases, while the Holter monitor did so for 86.5%. The AliveCor monitor found the specific rhythm disturbance likely responsible for symptoms in 11 out of the 23 patients, while the Holter monitor did so for 9 of them.

The AliveCor monitor is also much less inconvenient than a Holter monitor. The latter is worn continuously and requires a number of electrodes attached to the skin via leads. The AliveCor monitor is attached to the back of a smartphone and the user rests it on the chest when feeling heart palpitations. The AliveCor device can be used to immediately transmit that data to a physician, while a standard Holter monitor may require data to be downloaded at the end of the monitoring period.

AliveCor has long been seen as a success story in the digital health and wearables realm--it was on our Fierce 15 list in 2014. Earlier this year, it debuted an EKG monitoring band for use with the Apple Watch. And it brought in former Google executive Vic Gundotra as CEO late last year. He was previously an SVP at Google who headed the company's social initiatives. 

- here's detailed study data
- and the trial record