In honor of February being American Heart Month, this post illustrates some of the most recent developments in cardiac-specific telemedicine. Cardiovascular diseases are becoming more prevalent in Western countries; in fact, cardiovascular disease is the single most common killer of people in the United States. However, there has been success in preventing and treating these conditions with telemedicine, specifically with home-based support.
The field of at-home monitoring is quickly growing into an industry of companies and products geared at making healthcare treatment accessible from patient’s homes in order to reduce hospitalizations and costly emergency treatments. Companies like SHL Telemedicine offer patients portable ECG devices that they can wear anywhere – at home or around the world. Patients can send their ECG using their smartphone to SHL or directly to their cardiologist for evaluation. According to SHL:
“Our medical staff who work 24/7 in our telemedicine centers excel at what they do and have identified many heart attacks, critical moments and major and minor turning points affecting the health and wellbeing of over one million users over the course of our history.”
Patients with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) also benefit from telemedicine. One study examined the effects of a home monitoring system over 4.5 weeks in patient’s homes, and measured the results 6 months after its removal. Similar to the ECG system described above, this study found that telemedicine led to a reduction in physician and emergency department visits. Overall, when telemedicine is implemented, the evidence suggests that it significantly facilitates home health care for patients with cardiac conditions. This is especially important at a time when the population is aging. The ability for conditions to be managed and monitored from home makes telemedicine a viable option for treatment of this demographic.