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Smartphones working with pacemakers are saving lives

Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 8:41 AM EDT
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If you log onto your phone right now, what kind of information would you find? Your heart rate? How many steps you’ve taken? Or maybe you track how much sugar you eat? But what if you could also check your pacemaker? Nearly three million people worldwide have implanted electronic devices that they’ve never been able to track themselves … until now.

Millions of people need surgically implanted cardiac devices, like pacemakers, to keep them alive. Close monitoring of these devices is critical.

Khaldoun Tarakji, MD, MPH, associate section head of cardiac electrophysiology at Cleveland Clinic told Ivanhoe, “They say, well, I know, doc, I know that you’re receiving my data, but I have no idea whether this is truly happening or not.”

But now, Dr. Tarakji has found a way to put that power in your smartphone. It’s a first of a kind app called MyCareLink Heart.

“Other people have to have a monitor beside their bed to record it and they have to take it in, and have it read where mine can be read at any time,” shared bradycardia patient Erma Mercer.

“It outperformed all the existent technologies for remote monitoring,” explained Dr. Tarakji.

Bluetooth wireless telemetry and new-generation pacemakers transmit data from the heart to a phone or tablet, then directly to the doctor.

“And we found that with this new technology, the success rate was high as 94.6 percent,” elaborated Dr. Tarakji.

No matter where you are.

“I just feel so much safer and so much better,” exclaimed Erma Mercer.

“We’re all attached to these devices. And this is not just for the care of the patient of today, but this is also for the care of the patient of tomorrow,” Dr. Tarakji explained.

While the MyCareLink Heart app improves outcomes for patients over other traditional methods of monitoring, the biggest challenge has been access to a smart device. To donate an old smartphone or tablet to someone in need consider logging on to sites like http://www.1millionproject.org/ or https://medicmobile.org/.

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