A new study from Columbia University is launching that will pair AliveCor’s Kardia device with health messaging targeted at behavior change to improve outcomes in patients with atrial fibrillation.

The AliveCor Kardia is a smartphone paired EKG device that we reviewed on first release several years ago. Since then, it has been used in a number of studies ranging from community screening of atrial fibrillation to post-operative arrhythmia monitoring.

In this study, investigators at Columbia University will randomize patients who have undergone cardioversion or ablation for symptomatic atrial fibrillation to either usual care or AliveCor Kardia device plus daily health messaging. Patients in the intervention arm will be asked to transmit a daily single-lead EKG as well as an EKG with symptoms. In addition, they’ll get daily health messaging via text messages designed to promote healthy lifestyle changes. The text messages are an extension of some recent studies that found patients in a weight loss program who actually lost weight had improvement in symptoms and burden of atrial fibrillation. They’ll then follow patients for recurrence of AF as well as quality of life.

A number of studies have shown that text messaging can be effective at spurring improved self management of chronic diseases as well as general lifestyle changes. An Australian study showed that four health-related messages per week helped patients improve blood pressure, lipid control, and more. In a study from Johns Hopkins, an adaptive messaging program that incorporated pedometer data helped patients get more steps in per day.

It will be interesting to see whether the act of measuring an EKG in this intervention affects effectiveness. In other words, does engaging in a specific self-management activity in conjunction with health messaging make it more effective? In this case, it’s certainly useful in ascertaining an outcome (recurrence of AF) but perhaps simply encouraging patients check an EKG could make the messages they then receive about their health more effective.

Source: ClinicalTrials.gov, BMC Cardiovascular Disorders (protocol)