New wireless patch deemed superior to old cardiac holter monitors

LA JOLLA – A wireless patch attached to the chest does a better job at detecting abnormal heart rhythms than the wired device used by physicians for the past 60 years, according to a study published recently by the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla.

In the study, 146 patients referred to Scripps Green Hospital for potential heart conditions were fitted with the traditional device, called the Holter monitor, and a new Zio Patch.

The Holter monitor consists of a cell-phone sized recorder worn at the waist and five to seven lead wires that attach to the chest. Patients typically are able to tolerate the device for 24 hours, but the Zio Patch can be worn for up to two weeks, the researchers said.

According to the STSI study, the Holter monitor discovered 61 arrhythmia events, while the Zio Patch detected 96. The researchers credited the patch’s superior performance primarily to prolonged monitoring.

“For millions of people who present each year with suspected arrhythmia, this may prove to be the new standard for capturing the culprit heart rhythm electrical disturbance, most commonly atrial fibrillation which carries a significant risk of stroke,” said Dr. Eric Topol, STSI’s director and lead author of the study.

A survey of study participants found that 81 percent of them preferred wearing the patch over the Holter monitor, with 76 percent saying the Holter monitor affected their daily activities.

Physicians who reviewed data from both devices reported reaching a definitive diagnosis 90 percent of the time when using the patch results versus 64 percent of the time when using Holter monitor data, according to the researchers.

The Zio Patch is provided by iRhythm Technologies of San Francisco. Patients mail the device to iRhythm for analysis and results.

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