Healthline: An easier way to diagnose AFib

Dr. Kenneth Civello (Source: WAFB)
Dr. Kenneth Civello (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Heart conditions can be difficult to diagnose, but local cardiologists have an exciting new tool in their pocket. A small piece of technology called the ZIO patch is already making a big difference.

"Alright, I'm going to abrade your skin a little bit, get your skin ready for it to stick on," a nurse explained to a patient before putting the device in place.

It only takes about five minutes to apply ZIO. It is a powerful advancement in heart monitors that help diagnose atrial fibrillation (AFib).

"It's like a Band-Aid," Dr. Kenneth Civello said. "You put it on, you can sleep with it, you can bathe with it, and you wear it for 14 days."

Civello is a cardiologist with Louisiana Cardiology Associates at Our Lady of the Lake. His practice is the first in the area to use ZIO.

Patients with AFib often have an irregular heartbeat, and, until now, recording those irregularities has been difficult. Traditional heart monitors are bulky and full of wires. Most only collect data for 24 or 48 hours.

"For so long the accepted standard was short-term monitoring, and that you would come in and see someone and they would pat you on the back and say,
'Everything looks good,'" Civello explained. "And the truth is, now that we're able to expand these monitors out to longer periods of time, we've realized that no everything doesn't look good. We were missing things before."

AFib is a major cause of strokes in the United States, and a proper diagnosis is key for prevention. ZIO records the heartbeat continuously for 14 days. Patients press down on the device when they experience symptoms, marking the exact time of the event. The patch is eventually mailed to a data center, and a full report is prepared for the doctor.

"Your risk of having a stroke once you're on Coumadin is probably half of that it is if you're on aspirin, so knowing exactly what you have makes a big difference," Civello said.

If you have complaints of palpitations or a racing heart, ask your cardiologist if the ZIO patch is a good option.

ZIO is made by iRhythm Technologies and was FDA-approved in 2009. It has recently been approved by more insurance companies, giving more patients access to the potentially life-saving device.

Contact Louisiana Cardiology Associates at 767-3900 or CLICK HERE.

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