eHealth service provider apoplex medical technologies GmbH supports doctors and clinics in stroke prevention with the help of smart applications and the latest medical technology from Bittium.
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 episodes are asymptomatic. Such asymptomatic atrial fibrillation therefore usually remains undetected for a long time. The number of people with undiagnosed and thus untreated atrial fibrillation is particularly high. With a service model based on intelligent applications and medical technology, apoplex medical technologies relieves treating physicians 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 permanently in need of care. According to a GBD study (Global Burden of Diseases), a dramatic increase in stroke-related disease burden can be observed worldwide. The relative increase in illness in younger age groups under 70 years is particularly alarming i).
Facilitating preventive diagnosis
apoplex medical technologies (a.m.t.) was founded in Pirmasens in 2004 with the aim of making strokes and their effects preventable. To this end, the company has developed an easy-to-perform procedure for detecting the cause of stroke, atrial fibrillation, 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 itself, which analyses ECG data with special parameters and by 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 whether factors for an increased probability exist.
As an eHealth service provider, a.m.t. works together with doctors in private practice as well as with clinics and stroke units.
Personal care by the family doctor with the support of specialists
GPs often have neither the equipment nor the specialist training needed to reliably diagnose atrial fibrillation in patients. However, many patients would prefer to continue to be cared for by a trusted doctor rather than be referred to an unfamiliar specialist, especially if they have worrying health signs. By working with a specialised service provider like a.m.t., the family doctor can continue to care for his patients. This not only gives patients peace of mind, but also speeds up diagnosis and therapy by eliminating waiting times for an appointment with a specialist.
To monitor the heart rhythm, the GP first puts the patient on a long-term ECG, which records ECG data for several days. a.m.t uses the Bittium Faros™ recorder solution for this. The self-adhesive Bittium OmegaSnap™ patch electrode makes this ECG recorder particularly easy to apply. In addition, the device is very small, light and inconspicuous. The patient is not hindered in everyday life and does not have to take the recorder off during sports or showering. The patient can wear the Holter ECG for up to seven days before the adhesive electrode is replaced with a new one.
he ECG data are transmitted securely via the internet to a.m.t and evaluated with the help of the algorithm. If no abnormalities or an increased probability of atrial fibrillation are detected even after 7 days of cardiac monitoring, the patient does not need to be treated further with regard to the cardiac arrhythmia. If, on the other hand, the smart solution detects an increased probability of atrial fibrillation, the doctor will advise a further monitoring period. If atrial fibrillation is detected, the data is immediately transmitted by a.m.t to the telemedical institute “GIG” (Gesellschaft für integrierte Gesundheitsversorgung), where cardiologically qualified doctors can make a diagnosis of the analysis results.
Relief and faster diagnosis in hospitals
In hospitals, personnel and time resources are usually very scarce. Even if patients have already been admitted to stroke units, the ECG data collected 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 trigger of the disease is one of the most urgent tasks of every stroke unit. In the context of secondary prevention, it is important to initiate effective therapies as early as possible in order to prevent secondary events with often even more drastic consequences for the patients. Atrial fibrillation is one of the most frequent triggers of a stroke. However, this often occurs only for a short time and is usually asymptomatic. The diagnosis of this cardiac arrhythmia is complex, as it involves the evaluation of a large number of ECG data.
In the cooperation with a.m.t, the ECG data from the patient monitoring system in the clinic is forwarded directly to the company’s servers and analysed there. The attending physician in the clinic receives a result report from which he can see very quickly whether indications of atrial fibrillation have been detected or whether there is an increased probability of it. This shortens the diagnosis time, relieves the hospital staff and speeds up the initiation of therapy. If an increased probability is diagnosed, the patient can then be fitted 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 the cardiac arrhythmia atrial fibrillation more safety with little effort. “The new generation of Holter ECG solutions has played a decisive role in making such a service accessible to a broad mass of patients and also in implementing it on an outpatient basis, so that the quality of life of the users is not impaired,” explains Albert Hirtz, CEO of apoplex medical technologies. “The feedback from the doctors we work with is very positive. They are surprised and excited about the long recording time of the recorder.”
Bittium Faros convinced the specialists at a.m.t, in addition to the long recording time of up to seven days without changing the electrodes, above all by the quality of the ECG data and the wearing comfort of the particularly compact and waterproof device.
“For us as a service provider in the medical environment, it was also important that the data format of the ECG data is open and thus compatible with our application” adds Albert Hirtz. “The price-performance ratio is also convincing and thus enables a broad application to detect stroke risks in a wider population at an early stage.”
Through the interaction of intelligent technology and medical services, clinics and general practitioners can offer a faster and more efficient diagnostic service and also implement preventive examinations. The cooperation also reduces costs for the health care system, as not only are the devices used themselves cheaper than previous ECG devices, but the effort for the specialists involved is also reduced. This makes preventive measures, just like follow-up treatments after incidents, more feasible.