A Scripps Clinic cardiologist today became the first in California to implant the world’s first smartphone-compatible cardiac monitor following the recent clearance of the device by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
The Abbott Confirm Rx continuously tracks a patient’s heartbeat and automatically sends the data to their physician by connecting with a smartphone and proprietary app via Bluetooth wireless technology.
Douglas Gibson, MD, placed the tiny device just under the skin of the chest of a 78-year-old Temecula man during a 15-minute outpatient procedure at the John R. Anderson V Medical Pavilion, which is located on the campus of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.
The patient had been experiencing palpitations, a sensation of a racing heart and light headedness prior to the procedure. Dr. Gibson will use data from the monitor to track the patient’s symptoms, gain valuable new information for making a diagnosis, and monitor treatment.
“This new technology represents the latest step forward in improving our ability to monitor patients with symptoms suggesting a heart arrhythmia, to accurately diagnose the problem, and to provide the most appropriate care and treatment,” Dr. Gibson said. “Our early access to the Confirm RX is yet another example of why Scripps is ranked the No. 1 provider of heart care in the region.”
The Confirm Rx is designed to help physicians identify even the most difficult to detect cardiac arrhythmias. These include atrial fibrillation, which is the most common type of irregular heartbeat and can lead to a five-fold increased risk of stroke.
The device, which is about the size of two stacked paper clips, has the ability to track a patient’s heart rhythm over an extended period of time, unlike external monitors that are typically used. For patients with very intermittent symptoms, the device will be there even months or years into the future when the patient’s symptoms recur. It also can help to clarify whether or not a certain symptom is related to a heart rhythm disorder or something else entirely.
The device proactively transmits patient heart rhythm information to Abbott’s myMerlin mobile app, allowing physicians to follow their patients remotely and accurately diagnose arrhythmias that may require further treatment.
The Confirm Rx and the app are compatible with iOS and Android smartphones.
An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm that develops when disease or injury disrupts the heart’s electrical signals, causing the heart to beat erratically. As the heart begins to beat too fast or too slow, changes in blood flow can expose patients to a number or symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath or fainting.
Once implanted with the Confirm Rx, patients can record symptomatic events without using additional hardware, such as the handheld activators or bedside transmitters required by other cardiac monitoring devices. Patients also can view their transmission history on the smartphone app without having to contact their clinic to confirm that their data was transferred. And following the device placement, they can immediately return to their normal activity without any fear of interfering with or damaging the monitor.
Each year more than 76,000 patients receive their cardiovascular care from Scripps, making it San Diego County’s largest heart care provider. Scripps is the only health system in the region that is consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as having one of the best cardiology and heart surgery programs in the nation.
Learn more about Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in San Diego, Calif.