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SLCH Cardiologist Utilizes Advanced Technology to Identify and Treat Heart Rhythm Patients Faster and More Effectively

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Newburgh, NY – Dr. Mehul Patel, a cardiologist at St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital, recently used one of the most sophisticated technological tools available to diagnose and treat a patient suffering from an episode of atrial fibrillation. Dr. Patel's use of the AliveCor Heart Monitor was able to accurately and quickly diagnose the condition of Hudson Valley resident Frank Lippolis, saving the patient a trip to the Emergency Department, several diagnostic tests and a potential hospital admission.

The AlivCor Heart Monitor connects to an Apple, Microsoft or Android based mobile device and allows the user to produce a 30-second heart rhythm, simply by holding the device in your hands. The results, achieved without wires can be e-mailed directly to a physician. Mr. Lippolis was issued the device and after experiencing symptoms the same day, was able to send Dr. Patel results that were immediately identified as atrial fibrillation, a condition where the upper chambers of the heart beat irregularly causing symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness and chest pain.

Rather than a trip to the Emergency Department, Dr. Patel arranged for Mr. Lippolis to visit the SLCH Cardiac Catheterization Lab for outpatient Electrical Cardioversion which restored a normal heart rhythm. He was able to return to work the same day.

"What we've found with this device is its strength in diagnosis," Dr. Patel said. "The patient has to have a little dexterity in transmitting the data, but it is instant diagnosis and instant communication. Based on that, we can see what needs to be done. The entire process happens so fast from symptoms to diagnosis and treatment to disposition."

The ability to diagnose and treat quickly is especially critical when dealing with atrial fibrillation. If the episode is not recognized and treated in a timely manner, several steps must be taken to ensure there is not a blood clot present before restoring a normal heart rhythm.

"If we can diagnose this fast, then we can treat it fast," Lippolis, who has a history of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, said. "When you're in a-fib, the blood in the heart is coagulating. Typically, Dr. Patel has to do a lot of testing make sure I don't have a clot, and then shock me. If he knows sooner, I can be treated instantly."

By using the AliveCor Heart Monitor, patients are able to immediately communicate symptoms and rhythm results which can speed up the diagnostic process by days and keep patients from having to be admitted to the hospital. Previously, doctors have relied on devices such as a Holter/Event monitor that needed to be distributed during an office visit in hopes they would catch the abnormality. With the new mobile device, patients can check their cardiac rhythm instantly upon the onset of symptoms and transmit the data immediately, greatly increasing the ability of the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis of their current condition.

"When the patient comes to the office or hospital and says I've been having palpations for two days, my window is gone," Dr. Patel said. "The majority of the time when a patient says they're having palpitations, by the time they get an appointment, go to the office, or to the emergency room, and get an evaluation, the abnormal rhythm has subsided and they're back to normal rhythm. With this device, we can have instant transmission and instant diagnosis. He can simply send me the rhythm, and I can tell him if he's in a-fib. If you diagnose fast, you can treat fast and send the patient home. It has avoided hospitalizations and the diagnostic workups."

The device was brought to the attention of Dr. Patel by Cletis Earle, SLCH Vice President and Chief Information Officer. Earle was first introduced to the device at the 2013 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMMS) convention. 

"These are the types of devices that we want to be able to introduce to our physicians so that someone like Dr. Patel, who is an innovative physician, can utilize them," Earle said. "As patients become savvier in their use of technology, they are becoming more involved in their care. There are recent survey results that say 92 percent of patients would rather e-mail their doctor than have to wait for an appointment and two-thirds of patients believe they should have the right to access all their medical data. It is a new day in medicine, and we're proud to be part of this."

Dr. Patel has issued the same device to four patients. The monitor attaches to the mobile device and is run through an app the patient downloads.

The AliveCor Heart Monitor is not the first cutting-edge technology employed by St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital in recent months. SLCH performed its first implant of the Medtronic Reveal LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM) System. This is the smallest implantable cardiac monitoring device currently available. This device creates a minimally invasive and incredibly fast procedure for SLCH cardiac patients in need of a cardiac monitor.

St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital (SLCH) is a not-for-profit community hospital with campuses in Newburgh and Cornwall, NY. The hospital is dedicated to serving the health care needs of the Hudson Valley and aspires to excellence in the delivery of compassionate and comprehensive health care services. SLCH offers comprehensive cardiac, stroke, cancer and orthopedic services and a full range of other clinical offerings. For more information, go to http://www.stlukescornwallhospital.org/ or http://www.facebook.com/stlukescornwallhospital