Our impact feature: Remote ECG monitoring

Patient, Joe, demonstrating the AliveCor Kardia remote ECG monitoring device.

Medical equipment is evolving at such pace that it can be hard for the NHS to keep up. This is where charitable funding can really make a difference by stepping in to buy the latest technologies.

Increasing numbers of children are coming to our hospitals with cardiac problems. This is particularly so post COVID, when the paediatric team saw many more young patients with tiredness, breathlessness, dizziness, faints, chest pain and palpitations.

Traditional management would be to see these patients in clinic and perform a heart scan and ECG for a defined period. But these investigations only capture a snapshot of a child’s health and wellbeing, and don’t always identify the abnormality – even if one is present. For example, a child will have a period of continuous monitoring for 24 hours (using a special sensor to track their heart activity) and not experience any symptoms in that time. Therefore, their result could be normal – giving a false negative.

Paediatric consultant and neonatal service lead, Dr Sankara Narayanan, requested a grant to trial an AliveCor Kardia device with his young patients. This equipment had already been approved for the remote monitoring of cardiac arrhythmia in adults and he wanted to test its usefulness in assessing children too. The AliveCor Kardia could remotely assess children at home, with the results being electronically transferred to their consultant.

This way, a longer and more accurate recording of cardiac electrical activity can be taken – including when the child is experiencing their symptoms. If the recording shows no abnormality, then the family can be reassured, and the child discharged. If the reading is abnormal, the patient can be referred for further investigations and interventions.

“The benefits of assessing children this way are manyfold. Children are likely to be less anxious at home, and the disruption to the family is reduced. This grant will enable us to run this proof-of-concept exercise and share our experience with other hospitals which may also potentially benefit from this.”

Dr Sankara Narayanan, Consultant paediatrician and neonatal service lead
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