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Detection of potentially deadly atrial fibrillation dramatically improved by new algorithm
Date:5/19/2010

WORCESTER, Mass. An algorithm developed by Ki H. Chon, PhD, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), in partnership with Snehraj Merchant of The ScottCare Corporation, makes it possible for a new heart monitoring system to detect incidents of atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia, far more accurately than previous methods. The algorithm, utilized in the new ScottCare CardioView Dx Suite, detects AF episodes with an accuracy of 95 percent--a dramatic improvement over the previous state of the art--and immediately flags them, obviating the need for a trained technician to spend hours analyzing data.

Atrial fibrillation, which affects about three million Americans, is an independent risk factor for death and a major cause of ischemic stroke, in which blood flow is reduced to part of the brain. Treatments are available that can significantly reduce or eliminate AF, but the condition must first be detected, which is difficult, Chon says.

"Unfortunately, it is notoriously difficult to diagnose," he notes. "AF is often asymptomatic and intermittent. In the vast majority of cases, diagnosis depends upon the presence of symptoms, such as rapid and irregular heart rate, and upon serendipity. Patients may be unaware of their irregular pulse and diagnosis may only be established during a fortuitous visit to a doctor."

In AF, the heart's normal sinus rhythm is disrupted by random electrical impulses in the atria and the pulmonary veins. This results in an irregular heartbeat that may be fleeting or recur intermittently for weeks or even years. While it is often a random phenomenon initially, AF is likely to become chronic, and it significantly elevates the risk for stroke and other complications, including congestive heart failure.

Without careful monitoring and early treatment, AF patients may be at risk of heart failure. But even when patients wear sta
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Contact: Michael Dorsey
mwdorsey@wpi.edu
508-831-5609
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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