Wearable and implantable diagnostic monitors in early assessment of atrial tachyarrhythmia burden
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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the cause of substantial direct patient morbidity and a frequent cause of emergency room visits. Even when asymptomatic, AF remains a major cause of stroke, particularly among the elderly. As the risk of both AF and stroke increase with age, the importance of AF-related stroke is growing as a result of demographic shifts in many countries. Oral anticoagulation is highly effective at preventing stroke due to AF; however, AF remains undetected in a large number of individuals. The last decade has witnessed the development of many new technologies to detect AF. Screening studies using single-time point or repeated discrete screening methods have uncovered previously undiagnosed AF in 1-3% of asymptomatic individuals. However, continuous monitoring with implanted devices demonstrates short-lasting AF in over one-third of older individuals with cardiovascular risk factors. Debate remains regarding the minimum burden of AF that is associated with an increase in stroke risk, and the threshold for using oral anticoagulation. Over the next 5 years, ongoing studies will help clarify how wearable and implantable technology can be used to improve outcomes in patients with previously unrecognized AF.
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