Mobile-based ECG Screening Detects AFib in American Indians

A mobile-based electrocardiogram (ECG) screening was accurately able to detect atrial fibrillation (AFib) in a patient population of American Indians, new study results indicate.

“We know the risk of AFib is high in people who are from racial and ethnic groups, especially among American Indians, so we wanted to see if we could identify silent AFib,” said lead author Stavros Stavrakis, MD, PhD, a cardiologist at the Heart Rhythm Institute of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Oklahoma City, said in a press release. “Systemic screening among American Indians has never been done before, and the true rate of atrial fibrillation in this population is unknown.”

The authors included 1,019 American Indians (aged 50 and older, 63% female) in the study. All patients received care at a tribal primary care clinic. Study participants underwent 30-second, single-lead ECG, and the mobile device paired with a smartphone or tablet device at the clinic. The ECG results were compared to those of a control group of 1,267 American Indian adults who received care at a tribal care center, but did not receive mobile-based ECG screening.

According to the results, AFib was detected in 15 (1.5%) of patients in the mobile-based ECG group, compared with four participants or 1,267 (0.3%) in the non-intervention group. Half of those diagnosed with the mobile protocol were younger than 65 years of age, and 14 were at high risk for stroke as measured using the CHADS2-VASc score.

“In a targeted, high-risk population such as American Indians, our results showed screening at a younger age found many cases of atrial fibrillation that would have been missed following current age recommendations,” Stavrakis said in the release. “We have the potential to improve outcomes in this population by initiating early treatment.”