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Heart, Lung and Circulation

The Role of Contemporary Wearable and Handheld Devices in the Diagnosis and Management of Cardiac Arrhythmias

Published:September 13, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hlc.2022.08.001
      Cardiac arrhythmias are associated with significant morbidity, mortality and economic burden on the health care system. Detection and surveillance of cardiac arrhythmias using medical grade non-invasive methods (electrocardiogram, Holter monitoring) is the accepted standard of care. Whilst their accuracy is excellent, significant limitations remain in terms of accessibility, ease of use, cost, and a suboptimal diagnostic yield (up to ∼50%) which is critically dependent on the duration of monitoring. Contemporary wearable and handheld devices that utilise photoplethysmography and the electrocardiogram present a novel opportunity for remote screening and diagnosis of arrhythmias. They have significant advantages in terms of accessibility and availability with the potential of enhancing the diagnostic yield of episodic arrhythmias. However, there is limited data on the accuracy and diagnostic utility of these devices and their role in therapeutic decision making in clinical practice remains unclear. Evidence is mounting that they may be useful in screening for atrial fibrillation, and anecdotally, for the diagnosis of other brady and tachyarrhythmias. Recently, there has been an explosion of patient uptake of such devices for self-monitoring of arrhythmias. Frequently, the clinician is presented such information for review and comment, which may influence clinical decisions about treatment. Further studies are needed before incorporation of such technologies in routine clinical practice, given the lack of systematic data on their accuracy and utility. Moreover, challenges with regulation of quality standards and privacy remain. This state-of-the-art review summarises the role of novel ambulatory, commercially available, heart rhythm monitors in the diagnosis and management of cardiac arrhythmias and their expanding role in the diagnostic and therapeutic paradigm in cardiology.

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