Reducing Stroke-Risk Through Early Detection of Atrial Fibrillation

Success Story

Reducing Stroke-Risk Through Early Detection of Atrial Fibrillation

eHealth service provider apoplex medical technologies supports doctors and clinics in stroke prevention with the help of smart applications and the latest medical technology from Bittium.

"For us as a service provider in the medical field, it was also important that the data format of the ECG data is open and therefore compatible with our application"

Albert Hirtz
Managing Director of apoplex medical technologies

According to the "German Heart Foundation", around 1.8 million Germans suffer from atrial fibrillation – and the number is rising. This makes it the most common cardiac arrhythmia. An additional danger is that atrial fibrillation often occurs without noticeable symptoms. According to the "Atrial Fibrillation Competence Network", around 70 percent of the episodes are completely symptom-free. Such asymptomatic atrial fibrillation therefore usually remains undetected for a long time. The number of unreported cases of people with unrecognized and therefore untreated atrial fibrillation is particularly high. With a service model based on intelligent applications and medical technology, apoplex medical technologies relieves the burden on treating doctors and clinics and accelerates diagnosis and therapy.

Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of suffering a stroke – the third most common cause of death in Germany. In addition, every second survivor remains in need of long-term care. According to a GBD (Global Burden of Diseases) study, a dramatic increase in stroke-related disease burden can be observed worldwide. The relative increase in the number of cases in younger age groups under 70 is of particular concern [i].

Facilitating Preventive Diagnoses

Apoplex Medical Technologies (a.m.t.) was founded in Pirmasens in 2004 with the aim of making strokes and their effects preventable. To support this goal, the company has developed an easy-to-implement procedure for identifying atrial fibrillation as the cause of a stroke, which is available to doctors and clinics worldwide.

The basis for the early detection of atrial fibrillation is an algorithm developed by a.m.t, which analyzes ECG data with special parameters and through pattern recognition using neural networks (machine learning). In this way, the company's solution can not only detect cases of atrial fibrillation, but also determine if there are factors that make it more likely.

a.m.t. works as an eHealth service provider with both resident doctors, clinics and stroke units.

Personal Care by the Familiar General Practitioner With the Support of Specialists

General practitioners often have neither the equipment nor the required specialist training to reliably diagnose atrial fibrillation in patients. However, many patients would prefer to continue to be treated by their trusted doctor rather than be referred to an unknown specialist, especially if there are worrying health signs. By working with a specialized service provider such as a.m.t., the general practitioner can continue to look after his patients. This not only gives patients security, but also speeds up diagnosis and therapy, since there are no waiting times for an appointment with a specialist.

In order to monitor the heart rhythm, the general practitioner first applies a long-term ECG to the patient, which records ECG data over several days. a.m.t uses the Bittium Faros™ Holter ECG solution for this. This ECG device is particularly easy to put on thanks to the self-adhesive Bittium OmegaSnap™  patch electrode. In addition, the device is very small, light and unobtrusive. The patient is not hindered in everyday life and does not have to take the device off when exercising or taking a shower. The patient can wear the Bittium Faros™device with OmegaSnap patch electrode for up to seven days before the adhesive electrode is replaced with a new one.

The ECG data is transmitted securely over the Internet to a.m.t and evaluated using their algorithm. If there are no abnormalities or an increased probability of atrial fibrillation after 7 days of cardiac monitoring, the patient does not need further cardiac arrhythmia related treatments. If, on the other hand, the smart solution detects an increased probability of atrial fibrillation, the doctor will recommend a further monitoring period. If cardiac fibrillation is detected, the data is immediately transmitted from a.m.t to the telemedical institute "GIG" (Society for Integrated Health Care), where doctors qualified in cardiology assess the analysis results.

Support and Faster Diagnostics in Clinics

In hospitals, personnel and time resources are usually very scarce. Even if patients have already been admitted to stroke units, the ECG data recorded there must be evaluated by cardiologists. This leads to waiting times, which in turn delay the diagnosis and initiation of therapy.

After the acute care of stroke patients, the search for the cause of the disease is one of the most urgent tasks of every stroke unit. As part of secondary prevention, it is important to initiate effective therapies as early as possible in order to prevent subsequent incidents with often even more drastic consequences for the patient. Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common causes of a stroke. However, this often only occurs for a short time and is usually symptom-free. The diagnosis of the cardiac arrhythmia is complex, since it involves the evaluation of a large number of ECG data.

When working with a.m.t, the ECG data from the patient monitoring system in the clinic are forwarded directly to the company's servers and analyzed there. The attending doctor in the clinic receives a results report from which he can see very quickly whether there are indications of atrial fibrillation or whether there is an increased probability of this. This shortens the diagnosis times, relieves the hospital staff and accelerates the initiation of therapy. If an increased probability is diagnosed, the patient can then be equipped with a Holter ECG to ensure further monitoring of the heart values on an outpatient basis.

Smart Medical Technology Enables Large-Scale Prevention

The aim of a.m.t is to offer patients and people with an increased probability of cardiac arrhythmia atrial fibrillation more security and to lower the diagnostic effort. "The new generation of Holter ECG solutions has made a decisive contribution to making such a service accessible to a large number of patients and also to implementing it on an outpatient basis, so that the quality of life of the user is not impaired," explains Albert Hirtz, Managing Director of apoplex medical technologies. "The feedback from the doctors we work with is very positive. They are surprised and amazed by the long recording time of the Bittium Faros ECG device ."

The Bittium Faros ECG device impressed the specialists at a.m.t. In addition to the long recording time of up to seven days without changing the electrodes, the quality of the ECG data and the wearing comfort of the particularly compact and waterproof device were convincing features.

"For us as a service provider in the medical field, it was also important that the data format of the ECG data is open and therefore compatible with our application," adds Albert Hirtz. "The price-performance ratio is also convincing and thus enables a broad application to identify stroke risks in a broader population group at an early stage."

Through the interaction of intelligent technology and medical services, clinics and resident general practitioners can offer a faster and more efficient diagnostic service and also implement preventive examinations. The cooperation also lowers the costs for the healthcare system, since not only are the devices used more cost-effective than previous ECG devices, but the workload for the specialists involved is also reduced. This makes preventive measures, as well as follow-up treatments after incidents, easier to carry out.