YOUR HEALTH: Smartphone for your heart

CLEVELAND, Ohio – 70-year old Tom Cooney is always on the go.

"Yeah I do a lot of traveling. Thousands of miles sometimes a week."

Even when he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a condition where patients have an irregular heartbeat, he didn't want to let that slow him down.

So when his doctor showed him a device, called a SmartHeart app,  that combines a smartphone case wired with electrodes, and an app that can let Cooney monitor his own heart rhythm, he was in.

"You know when you go like this on your hand and you feel it going fast, that's all you get, right, but when you see what's going on with your, with your heart and the rhythm then you get a better idea of where you're at."

Cooney was one of the first patients in a Cleveland Clinic trial testing the new device.   Doctors found the new smartphone monitor was just as accurate as traditional monitors and was easier to use.

"Patients loved it and they found it fun to use," said Dr. Khaldoun Tarakji, an electrophysiologist at Cleveland Clinic.

"You get them engaged so now they're not just a passive component."

For Cooney, it is making it more convenient when it comes to managing his healthcare.

"I could tell if there's something different with my heart than normally when I'm looking at this, so yeah it makes a difference, it gives me a sense of confidence as to where I am and what I should do," he explained.

The device is also allowing patients to do virtual doctor visits, cutting down on traveling time when a physical exam is not necessary.

STANDARD TREATMENT: Medications are often prescribed to prevent and treat blood clots. The drugs usually used to treat the condition are a variety of different blood thinners. It is important to steer clear of antiplatelets (aspirin) and anticoagulants as they increase the risk of bleeding. Another thing to avoid is contact sports, as they can cause unnecessary trauma that may result in a trip to the emergency room. In addition, there are beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and digoxin medications to control the heart rate. Patients may also be prescribed potassium channel blockers and sodium channel blockers to control the heart`s rhythm. (Source: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/AboutArrhythmia/Atrial-Fibrillation-Medications_UCM_423781_Article.jsp)

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.