Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has received a grant of almost £150,000 from Heart Research UK to test the detection of hearty rhythm problems by smart devices.
This is part of the effort to defend against atrial fibrillation (AF) the most common heart rhythm problem which is thought to affect around 2 million people in the UK.
It will involve the use of the Medtronic LINQ II implantable cardiac monitor (ICM), a device the size of a paperclip that is injected under the skin and monitors the heart rhythm and can accurately detect AF.
It can be connected to a smartphone in the same way as an Apple Watch or Sky Labs CART ring.
This study, which is being led by Professor Timothy Betts, will recruit 50 patients with AF and follow them for six months.
Everyone will receive an ICM. In the first three months, the team will see how well the ICM alerts the patient when AF is detected and how promptly the patient acknowledges the alert.
After three months, each patient will then be given either a Sky Labs CART ring or Apple Watch which will send alerts during AF episodes. The ICM will continue to monitor AF episodes and the team will see if the ring and watch are as good as the ICM at detecting AF, how well the ring and watch alert patients and if the alerts are acknowledged.
The ultimate goal is to use the data collected to guide anticoagulant treatment so that AF patients take anticoagulation only when they need it.
Betts said: “It is always fascinating to see advances in new technology and the wide range of applications that they can have.
“This project will allow us to understand if these new and innovative technologies can aid us in improving the treatment of the millions of people with AF in the UK.
“If successful, we will be able to tailor treatment to individual patients, increase the efficacy of treatment and reduce unnecessary medication.
“We are extremely grateful to Heart Research UK for funding this research.”
AF causes an irregular and fast heartbeat, which makes the heart pump poorly and can lead to blood clots and strokes. It can be difficult to detect it does not always create symptoms and some people have intermittent, infrequent episodes.
This is prompting research into how new technologies, such as small heart monitors placed under the skin, watches and rings, can track the heart rhythm continuously and send alerts.
Image from Heart Research UK