Patients join evaluation of heart rhythm monitor

Atrial fibrillation monitor

Stroke and cardiology services in Scotland could be transformed through technology being evaluated at the University of Strathclyde and the Digital Health and Care Institute (DHI).

Patients of NHS Lanarkshire who have recently had a stroke will be the first to wear a new ambulatory device that monitors their ECG (Electrocardiogram) continuously for up to seven days.

The device detects episodes of irregular heart rhythm – arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm with an increased risk of stroke. Conventional cardiac ambulatory monitors can monitor for only between 24-72 hours.

Recording ECG for a longer period may capture more intermittent arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation where a person is otherwise asymptomatic.

Early diagnosis of atrial fibrillation can lead to crucial changes in a patient’s treatment plan, to reduce the risk of further stroke. Early diagnosis and treatment will also lead to major cost savings to the health care system.

Today sees the completion of the training and digital device deployment of the new device for arrhythmia detection, including atrial fibrillation.  Strathclyde will work with NHS Lanarkshire and DHI to capture and evaluate the experiences of patients as they come through the service and are fitted with the new CAM (Carnation Ambulatory Monitor) device.

NHS Lanarkshire aims to transform the existing care pathway by introducing the new devices (CAM) to parts of routine services, resulting in patients having continuous and extended periods of monitoring at home, rather than in hospital.

Improved care

This will improve patient care by allowing health professionals to intervene earlier and will also result in people being treated and supported at home.

Dr Marilyn Lennon, Principal Investigator leading the evaluation at Strathclyde, said: "Studying real world implementation of such novel technologies is essential. By systematically capturing and mapping all the factors that influence the adoption and acceptance of new technologies in our existing health systems, we can help to pave the way forward for patients, NHS staff, and companies in making new technology enabled care a reality much faster."

Professor George Crooks OBE, Chief Executive Officer of DHI, said: “It’s fantastic to see this innovative project develop and be adopted by NHS Lanarkshire. A great deal of collaborative work has taken place to make this happen and I want to thank all our partners for their contributions in delivering the project. We hope that the results of this evaluation will lead to many more people being managed at home rather than hospital”.

Dr Mark Barber, NHS Lanarkshire consultant geriatric medicine and stroke, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating in this project, which will allow us to test modern monitoring technology, which would not otherwise be available to our stroke patients. We will robustly evaluate the project in the hope that in the future the CAM, and other similar technologies, will be available more widely to patients in Scotland.”

Professor Lis Neubeck, Head of Cardiovascular Health in the School of Health and Social Care at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “It’s great to see innovation transforming the care of people who have had a stroke. These devices are smaller than traditional monitors, and record for longer periods of time. This will improve detection of AF and change treatment, hopefully preventing further strokes. The smaller size of the devices makes them more comfortable to wear and being able to put them on at home will reduce the burden of repeat hospital visits for people who are recovering from stroke.”