A study conducted at Scripps Health has found that a novel new heart monitoring device helped emergency room patients avoid unnecessary follow-up care. Scripps Health electrophysiologist Steven Higgins, MD, presented findings of the study titled, "Prevalence of Arrhythmias in Emergency Department Patients Discharged Using a Novel Ambulatory Cardiac Monitor", today at the Heart Rhythm Society's 33rd Annual Scientific Sessions in Boston.
The study focused on the use of Zio- Patch, a single-use ambulatory cardiac monitor that looks similar to a 2- by 5-inch adhesive bandage and sticks to a patient's chest, that continuously monitors their heart rhythm for up to 14 days.
"The availability of this new heart monitor is exciting as it improves patient care. The patch is applied and when recording is done, the patient simply drops it in the envelope and returns it to us - it's like the Netflix of heart care," said Dr. Higgins, chairman of the department of cardiology at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and a lead investigator. "Because they are infrequent, heart rhythm problems are often difficult to diagnose, even though they can be quite serious. The Zio Patch is a new digital advance that will allow us to better diagnose challenging cases so we can provide our patients the best care."
Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla was the only hospital in Southern California to participate in the study. Other study locations included Stanford Hospital and Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas.
The study followed 285 patients who had presented to emergency departments across the country with symptoms possibly related to arrhythmias, such as fainting, palpitations, dizziness and others. Patients received the unencumbering, wire-free Zio Patch prior to being discharged from the emergency room and were instructed to wear the patch until it no longer adhered to their skin - up to 14 days duration. Devices were mailed back to iRhythm Technologies, Inc., the Zio Patch's developer and service provider, using a pre-paid postage envelope, for analysis and reporting of results to the patient's physician.
The researchers found that 59 percent of the symptomatic patients who presented to the emergency rooms did not have arrhythmia and may not require any further work-up. "Thus, the new device has the potential to save the health care system millions of dollars," said Higgins. "We were also surprised to learn that there was 100 percent compliance by the patient with the process, which is an amazing finding for an emergency department study."
Monitoring Leads to Possible Lifesaving Procedure
One patient who benefited from the Zio Patch is La Jolla resident, Kenneth Curzon, who fainted while at work in March. Curzon continuously wore the Zio Patch for two weeks and then mailed it back to iRhythm, where the information was downloaded and formatted into a report for Dr. Higgins to review.
The recording showed Curzon was experiencing prolonged pauses in his heart rhythm of over three seconds as well as other episodes of rapid heart beats. On April 6, he received an implantable cardiac defibrillator to correct the problem and was back to his management job within five days.
"The Zio Patch allowed me to diagnose and determine the most appropriate therapy for Ken," said Higgins.