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In Tests, Implanted Monitor Detects Atrial Fibrillation

New device could help find often-symptomless heart problem, researcher says

TUESDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- An implantable heart monitor that uses a new computation method is highly accurate in detecting a common heart rhythm problem called atrial fibrillation, according to a new study.

More than 2 million Americans have the condition, in which the heart's two upper chambers quiver instead of beating effectively. This causes blood to pool and clot, leading to increased risk for stroke. About one in seven strokes occurs in people with atrial fibrillation, according to the American Heart Association.

Many people with the disorder have no symptoms, making it crucial to detect and treat the condition, Dr. Gerhard Hindricks, a professor at the Heart Center at the University of Leipzig, in Germany, and the study's lead author, said in a news release from the American Heart Association.

The study included 247 people who were implanted with the Reveal XT leadless heart monitor and followed for 46 hours. The monitor, which is about the size of a camera memory stick, is placed under the skin.

The researchers found that the monitor correctly detected atrial fibrillation in 96.1 percent of those who had it. The study, published online Feb. 16 in Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, was funded by Medtronic, which makes the device.

Further studies are needed to assess the long-term accuracy of the monitor, according to Hindricks.

"The device has a limited data storage capacity (49.5 minutes of data), and this may be a limitation during longer follow-up periods -- especially since the presence of false positive episodes may exceed the storage capacity in some patients," he said. "Thus, long-term performance and validation studies are needed to find the optimal way of handling the device."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about atrial fibrillation.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Feb. 16, 2010

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