Abnormal heartbeat identified in 1 in 20 older adults using wrist-worn wearable and smartphone

Angelica Levitt, Competences Voorhoflemmern EV (AFNET)

heart beat

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Consumer electronics provide a new way to screen for atrial arrhythmias. One study offered smartphone- and wearable-based continuous arrhythmia screening to older adults without known atrial fibrillation. Atrial arrhythmias were detected in five percent of participants. The study was conducted by AFNET. The principal investigator was Professor Larissa Fabritz, University of Birmingham and University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf (UK), Hamburg, Germany.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia and a growing epidemic. It affects several million people in Europe, mostly older adults. In many people the arrhythmia is asymptomatic and often goes unnoticed for a long time. This can be dangerous because the risk of stroke and other complications can increase with atrial arrhythmias in older adults—even if the arrhythmia is only temporary and goes unnoticed by the person concerned.

Timely detection of atrial arrhythmias enables early therapy to potentially prevent complications, for example by starting anticoagulation to prevent stroke. Therefore, experts recommend screening in older populations to systematically detect arrhythmias. Advanced smartphone-connected wearables provide a new avenue for this.

The Smart in OAC—AFNET 9 (Smartphone and Wearable Atrial Arrhythmia Detection in Older Adults Case Finding) study examined persistent atrial arrhythmias in people older than 65 years without atrial fibrillation not receiving oral anticoagulation. Screening offered. The study was conducted in Germany, Poland and Spain during the 2021 COVID pandemic. 882 senior citizens between the ages of 65 and 90 participated and had signals recorded.

“Simple, scalable methods are needed to identify atrial arrhythmias in at-risk populations so that AF can be detected in a timely manner and therapy can be initiated,” said Professor Fabritz, explaining the background of the study. Therefore, we performed and evaluated SMART in the OAC-AFNET 9 study. Use of a fully digital detection system for atrial arrhythmias in older adults.”

Senior citizens were invited to participate in various ways. The majority of participants were reached through media campaigns in newspapers and television or through town hall meetings for senior citizens. The remaining participants were recruited through leaflets, identified by general practitioners who were informed of the study, websites, outpatient clinics or pharmacies.

Participants received a wristband with a sensor for pulse detection along with an app on their smartphone, allowing fully remote continuous rhythm monitoring for up to eight weeks. Remote participation was necessary in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atrial arrhythmias were detected in 44 participants (5%) within 28 days. Atrial arrhythmia detection was higher in the first week of monitoring than in later weeks. In only a few individuals, the arrhythmia occurred for the first time after more than four weeks.

“Smart at OAC—AFNET 9 successfully used a smartphone and wearable system to detect atrial arrhythmias in older people in several European countries,” concluded Prof. Fabritz. Offers of remote technical support accepted. were performed and compliance was high, indicating feasibility for this age group.”

“Our screening identified atrial arrhythmias in 5% of older adults. Detection rates were high in the first week of monitoring, and decreased thereafter, suggesting that older adults with atrial arrhythmias A relatively short period of time may be sufficient for detection. Use of fully digital, consumer electronics-based systems to screen for atrial arrhythmias in unselected older adults.”

Provided by Kompetenznetz Vorhofflimmern eV (AFNET).

Reference: Wrist wearables and smartphone use identify abnormal heartbeat in 1 in 20 older adults (2022, Nov 24) November 24, 2022 https://medicalxpress.com/news/ Retrieved 2022-11-abnormal-heartbeat-older-adults- wrist-worn.html

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