The TEASE trial
According to the BMJ paper, the researchers recruited 100 patients that had a stroke without a prior history of AF. This is a common scenario, one in which arguably the worst complication of AF has occurred, but the condition has not actually been detected. These patients were given the Coala Heart Monitor for a month. During this period, the monitor detected AF episodes in 9% of them. The ECG strips were independently examined by a doctor to confirm that the device got it right, which it did, 100% of the time.
What this means
The fact that the Coala Monitor picked up on AF in 9 patients out of 100 doesn’t say much without context. Another type of monitor, the implantable loop recorder (ILR) also detected AF in 9% of patients with stroke of unknown origin. Don’t forget – that device costs a fortune and has to be surgically implanted, with all the risks that entails. With these results in hand, many doctors may feel quite comfortable offering the Coala Heart Monitor to patients.
What this doesn’t mean
We do know that the Coala monitor detected AF in 9% of patients. But how many patients did it fail to detect? That is unknown. Also, until the Coala Heart Monitor is tested side-by-side with other AF detection techniques and devices, it’s not really safe to proclaim that it is equivalent to more standard means of diagnosis.
All in all, these results came as a really strong message that digital cardiology actually works. At Fantastrial, we welcome such research and advocate for the wider adoption of digital solutions to conventional problems in cardiology.