Launceston doctor to study use of Kardia ECG device for heart palpitation monitoring

09 Nov 2017

Launceston cardiology advanced trainee Dr Kuhendra Bala has received a grant to investigate the use of a mobile heart palpitation monitoring system.

The current process of diagnosis involves the use of a holter monitor, which has to be fitted and removed at a hospital or clinic.

Dr Bala received $8756 from the Clifford Craig Foundation to study the use of the mobile ECG system, which allows patients to upload or send through their results from home.

“We see quite a number of patients who come into the cardiology department with a diagnosis of palpitation, and, at present, the standard way of managing and diagnosing palpitation is through a holter monitor device,” he said.

“One of the difficulties with a holter monitor device is that it only gives you a 24-hour snapshot of your underlying cardiac rhythm and there’s a lot of costs associated with it.”

The monitors can cost between $3000 and $5000, Dr Bala said, and involved further costs to the patient if they lived in rural areas, because of travel to and from the hospital.

“What we are proposing to do is use this new device, called a mobile ECG device, which is the size of a credit card and is able to record your heart rhythm within seven seconds. And it will be attached to the back of your mobile phone.”

The Kardia device has already been used in the US in small studies of 10 to 20 people, but this Tasmanian study would be on a larger scale.

“We’re going to look at purchasing 50 units and start with 50 patients, and hopefully towards the end of that project, we’ll be getting some of the devices back from patients who have already had a diagnosis, and reusing those devices on further patients,” Dr Bala said.

“Hopefully we can start off with 50 but then we could look at multiplying those numbers by reusing the device once they’ve used it and achieved a diagnosis.”

Patients who are selected to be involved in the trial will still receive the standard holter monitor device.

“We’re not going to use it as a substitute at this stage, but if we show that it’s a positive study, then we can certainly look at using this as an alternative in cases where a holter monitor hasn’t given us any concrete diagnosis.

“We’re hoping we’re going to get a positive finding given that a couple of smaller studies have shown very promising data.”

Dr Bala said the device had the potential to be a “game changer” for some patients.

“It’s not going to be used for all patients, only those who have a compatible device,” he said.

“They have to show us they have the ability to use the device quite effectively and it shouldn’t be used in high-risk patients so patients who have had palpitations and subsequently have collapsed.

“These are patients who won’t be able to get to the device on time to get their heart rate recorded and their rhythm measured.

“It’s going to be used for patients who have symptoms but don’t lose consciousness and also for patients who have symptoms that last a few seconds.”

The device is enrolled onto the manufacturer’s website with the patient’s data.

As soon as the patient gets a heart rhythm, they can upload it onto their file and their clinician will be able to access it through the website.

It can also be sent as a screenshot via video message or as a PDF in an email.

  • The Clifford Craig Foundation, which is based at the LGH, announced its 2018 grant recipients last week.


Carly Dolan – The Examiner, Launceston