The atrial fibrillation epidemic is approaching the physician's door: will mobile technology improve detection?

BMC medicine

PubMedID: 25284609

Lindsberg PJ, Toivonen L, Diener HC. The atrial fibrillation epidemic is approaching the physician's door: will mobile technology improve detection?. BMC Med. 2014;12180.
The rising numbers of people with atrial fibrillation (AF) carry a heavy toll on our graying population. Epidemiological data suggest that AF exists in 1 in 10 individuals aged older than 80 years. The risk of embolic stroke increases along with well-known cardiovascular risk factors. Should there be systematic screening for the elderly? Although 1 in 10 is a huge hit rate in screening for any major illness, the initiative for such programs in AF remains in 'research and development'.At present, cardiologists can utilize implantable loop recorders in patients referred for specialist consultation. Novel technologies are also available, including cloud-based, algorithm-assisted, non-invasive monitoring patches, which allow extended observation periods. What about people in the community without a recognized need for cardiologic investigation? Mobile technology has made detection of pulse irregularity possible without medical attention. Smartphone apps enable opportunistic rhythm monitoring, but true arrhythmias need to be medically verified. AF may be the first common disorder to be effectively screened for by mobile technology. In the spirit of proactive campaigns such as 'Know Your Pulse', we should prepare for rapidly increasing reports of various pulse irregularities.