ZIO Patch helps diagnose heart conditions with more accuracy

A new technology developed in the Bay Area is helping to diagnose dangerous heart conditions with far more accuracy.
February 3, 2014 7:28:55 PM PST
A new technology developed in the Bay Area is helping to diagnose dangerous heart conditions with far more accuracy and for patients with far less disruption to their lives.

Sport fisherman Bob Hansen put's his heart and soul into the landing the big one.

But last year, his heart began sending him a message back.

"I felt like a little rumble inside my chest, kind of like a muscle twitching, but it was internal," Hansen said.

Hansen sought help from cardiologists to diagnose his abnormal heart rhythm.

To help isolate the exact cause, doctors eventually prescribed a new kind of all-in-one monitor.

Melissa Kong, M.D., is a cardiac electrophysiologist a the Silicon Valley Cardiology center in East Palo Alto and says the ZIO Patch is worn on the patient's chest for 14 days.

It replaces a traditional device called the Holter monitor, which is a separate unit connected to the chest with multiple leads.

"They usually wear it for 24-48 hours because that's how long the battery lasts. During that time they can't take the wires off, so you know, they have to wear their clothes around it. They cannot take showers and it really does tend to restrict their physical activity," Kong said.

The water-resistant ZIO Patch allows patients to both shower and exercise.

It's designed to collect data over a longer period of time to increase the odds of capturing a sporadic event such as heart arrhythmia.

At the end of two weeks, the patient mails the patch to the manufacturer, San Francisco-based iRhythm.

There, technicians retrieve a USB storage device encased inside and begin interpreting the massive amounts of data.

"We take that data off the patch. We put it up to the cloud. And then our tools are propietary algorithms and processing tools curate that data into an actual report for physicians," iRhythm CEO Kevin King said.

A recent study by the Scripts Translational Science Institute found the ZIO Patch system was able to detect 57-percent more arrhythmia events than the traditional Holter monitor and resulted in a diagnosis in nine out of 10 cases.

"I really think we're revolutionizing how arrhythmias are diagnosed and treated," King said.

Drawing on the information from Hansen's report, Kong eventually performed an ablation procedure on his heart to correct his atrial fibrillation.

The result has allowed him to continue working on his ranch in the Central Valley and return to the sport, fishing, he loves.

"My heart hasn't been fluttering. I seem to have more energy. You know, life's pretty good for Bob," Hansen said.

After Hansen's procedure, doctors used the ZIO Patch a second time to confirm that there were no recurrence of his arrhythmia.

AETNA, the third largest health plan in the United States has issued a positive coverage policy for long-term continuous monitoring of patients with suspected heart arrhythmias, which includes use of the ZIO Patch service.


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