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What is Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)?

An arrhythmia is an anomaly of this electrical activity. In particular, atrial fibrillation is caused by a disorganized firing of electrical impulses in the right atrium near the sinoatrial node, the natural pacemaker of the heart, where it is located.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and is one of the leading causes of stroke, heart failure, and cardiovascular morbidity in the world. It may be symptomatic (palpitations) or —more often—asymptomatic. In this case, it can remain “silent” which is why earlier detection of the disease could enable better care and help to avoid complications.

Silent, undetected AFib is common, with severe consequences such as stroke and death. Prompt recording of an ECG is an effective and cost-effective method to document chronic forms of AFib. The specificity of atrial fibrillation is that it can be assessed from any lead of an ECG.

How is Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) diagnosed today?

The gold standard for the diagnosis of AFib is the electrocardiogram. Recent recommendations encourage early detection of AFib via an ECG. Several studies report an interest in systematically screening at-risk populations by performing an ECG.

Until recently, the diagnosis of AFib required an ECG recorded in the doctor’s office. Therefore the “diagnostic window” for AFib detection was restricted to the duration of the medical consultation.

How is Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) detected?

A cardiologist looks at 3 items to diagnose AFib with an ECG :

  • Absence of the P wave in front of the QRS complexes
  • The rhythm of the QRS complexes (irregular and generally rapid heart rate, with generally narrow QRS complexes)
  • The baseline shows a tremor (due to untimely activation of the atria). Our machine learning algorithm classifies ECG signals by analyzing both the QRS rhythm and the shape of the heart waves

What is the prevalence of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)?

Atrial fibrillation is affecting nearly 3% of the adult population in Europe, and responsible for almost a third of the strokes in developed countries. 2.7M of the US population has AFib, among them, 9% of people are over 65 years old.

The prevalence is growing rapidly from 60 years old. It is affecting 0.12 - 0.16% of the population under 50, 3.7-4.2% of the 60-70-year-old, and 10 to 17% of people over 80 years old.

1 in 4 middle-aged adults in Europe & in the US will be diagnosed with AFib in their lifetime. AFib-related US health spending exceeds $6 billion a year, or 1% of the country's health expenditures.

What are the main risk factors?

Advanced age, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes.

What are the possible treatments?

  • Blood-thinning medication to prevent blood clots from forming and reduce stroke risk
  • Medications to control the heart’s rhythm and rate
  • Minimally invasive management—AFib ablation

How precise is ScanWatch’s ability to detect AFib compared to ECG in a hospital? 

The capacity to detect AFib on ScanWatch was developed by cardiologists. AFib detection in ScanWatch was compared to the gold-standard ECG used in hospitals, and early results show a 98% success in identifying AFib episodes when compared to a hospital ECG.

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