Western Sydney trials at-home ECG monitoring and community CPR training to improve heart health

Westmead Hospital cardiologist Professor Clara Chow.

A comprehensive read of your heart at the click of a button.

Westmead Hospital cardiologist Professor Clara Chow and her team at the Westmead Applied Research Centre (WARC) are trialling a new handheld device that will detect if someone has atrial fibrillation — an abnormal heart rhythm that can lead to stroke or heart failure.

This easy-to-use device, known as AliveCor Kardiamobile, aims to identify people who may have this condition and connect them with health services that can help manage it appropriately.

It only takes one minute per day for the AliveCor Kardiamobile device to potentially detect atrial fibrillation.

Professor Chow said that atrial fibrillation is increasingly common in Australia and affects people over 75 more frequently than other age groups.

“If not diagnosed and treated correctly, atrial fibrillation can result in significant problems, including stroke,” she said.

“By holding the device for just one minute per day, in the comfort of your home, you will have your heart rhythm checked.

“Your recordings are stored in your smartphone and then automatically sent to the research centre and monitored by a trained technician, cardiologists will be able to confirm whether you have atrial fibrillation.“

To be eligible to participate you must be over 75, have a smartphone, and never have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

Participants will receive training in the use of handheld mobile ECG detection devices (AliveCor Kardiamobile) and support from the WARC team if atrial fibrillation is detected.

“This study will train people to monitor their own heart. It is easy to use and could help ensure prompt and adequate management of atrial fibrillation if detected,” Professor Chow said.

For more information, contact the study team at the University of Sydney’s Westmead Applied Research Centre on (02) 8890 3129 or email warc.af@sydney.edu.au.

Saturday 16 October is Restart a Heart Day – a day to raise awareness and educate the community about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in the community.

CPR is a lifesaving skill everyone should learn, according to Professor Chow.

Every year around 30,000 Australians suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest with only 10 per cent surviving.

Professor Chow stressed that learning the simple skill of CPR could mean the difference between life and death.

“When someone is in cardiac arrest, their heart is not beating. It needs to be restarted as soon as possible in order for them to survive,” Professor Chow said.

“CPR can be life-saving first aid and increases the person’s chances of survival if started soon after the heart has stopped beating.

“If no CPR is performed, it only takes three to four minutes for the person to become brain dead due to a lack of oxygen.”

Knowing all too well the benefits of CPR is former western Sydney resident Paul Noble, whose life was saved thanks to CPR on 15 March 2021.

Read how CPR save Paul’s life here.

WSLHD, in partnership with Surf Life Saving NSW, NSW Health and the Michael Hughes Foundation, are doing a study called FirstCPR, whereby they are joining local clubs, RSLs, churches and ethnic minority group to deliver CPR training to their members.

Professor Clara Chow said that despite the courses being on hold due to COVID-19, CPR training is a priority for western Sydney.

“Cardiovascular disease is very common in western Sydney, and cardiovascular disease is one of the main causes of cardiac arrest,” Professor Chow said.

“People are scared to do CPR because they are worried to break a rib, or hurt them – but what is the alternative? Without CPR, the patient could die. It is always better to do something than nothing.

“We are sending members educational videos and resources whilst we wait for training to resume safely. Everyone should know basic CPR – it could save a life.”

For more information on FirstCPR contact the study team on 0412 369 519 or email warc.firstcpr@sydney.edu.au.

WARC was established by the University of Sydney in collaboration with Western Sydney Local Health District, specifically to address the causes of chronic disease, with a focus on translational research that addresses the specific needs and circumstances of patients in western Sydney.

The Westmead Health Precinct is one of the largest health, education, research, innovation and training precincts in Australia, featuring four major hospitals, four world-leading medical research institutes, two university campuses and the largest research intensive pathology service in NSW.