And by capture I don’t mean ‘chase after it and keep it in a cage’, I mean take a snapshot of it.
If you get palpitations, sometimes when you go to the doctor and they do an ecg everything is ‘normal’ and try send you away. They say there’s nothing that can be done if they can’t find anything wrong. You then go home, have a beer or two and whammo, there goes the heart racing away again. You book another appointment, race in and say ‘see doc, it happened again’ only to find there’s nothing on the doctor’s machine readout again. And so the cycle continues.
Until recently taking an ECG (electrocardiogram) was only for the emergency department and the heart ward. Even other wards in the hospital are scared of ECGs. They are hard to read if you aren’t trained and they can be hard to read and understand if you are trained.
A clever company has come up with a really nifty device that helps to bridge that gap between turning up at the doctor’s saying you have palpitations and then by the time they actually do the ECG the reading is normal.
If this happens to you, you may have what is called ‘Paroxysmal’ Atrial Fibrillation. Paroxysmal basically means intermittent. It may happen daily, weekly, monthly or only after a heavy night on the booze. You may have a lot of symptoms – heavier breathing, feeling puffed walking up stairs, more tired than usual and a heaviness in the chest. Others have no symptoms at all. Often paroxysmal AF will only be treated if the symptoms are troubling you, affecting your health or you are at risk of stroke. The stroke risk can be handled with anticoagulants (blood thinners) and the AF itself can be treated with either medications, a cardioversion (a shock that converts the heart back to normal rhythm) or an ablation (a procedure where the pathways where the AF is coming from are destroyed by burning or freezing them).
AliveCor can help you to record when you are having AF (atrial fibrillation). Then you can take those recordings to your doctor to show what your heart’s rhythm is at certain times. May cardiologists now recommend it. It’s relatively cheap (£99) and is small – it fits on the back of your iphone. It’s the only tool I have come across so far that doctors will acknowledge as a medical tool for home use.
Do you know of any others? Or do you use something else that you’ve found helpful?
The AliveCor has fabulous reviews and I have recommended it to many patients. Let me know if you have used it before and how it worked for you. Leave your comments below!
Of course, all this is reliant on having a doctor who A) can look at the reading from the AliveCor for you, B) knows how to interpret it and C) can refer you to an EP (Electrophysiologist) specialty Cardiologist to diagnose and then D) Give you options to treat (or not treat) the AF.
The reviews are pretty good (I’ve put one below so you can see or click HERE to read more) so if you can fork out the upfront cost then it could be a great way of working out what is going on with your palpitations. You do get the option to upgrade to a paid monthly service which keeps all of your ECGs in the App but the free version is good enough – simply save your ECGs as a PDF then send them to yourself to keep.
Let us know how you get on!