Smartphone app being tested to save children’s lives

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Many of us think of our smartphone as a life saver, but what if there was an app that really could save your life?

Well now there is, and it is being tested in St. Louis, on children with heart conditions, including Vivian Agniel, who is almost four months old.

‘Very amazing,’ said Carmen Agniel, Vivian`s mother, referring to a device called AliveCor.

It is a smartphone cover with two metal plates on the back, which can be used with an app on the phone to conduct an electrocardiogram, also known as an EKG, wirelessly, and then send it from that smartphone to the patient`s doctor.

‘It is so easy for them to upload that EKG and send it to me and just like they are sending it from their smartphone, I am reading on my smartphone,’ said Dr. Jennifer Silva, a Washington University Pediatric Cardiologist at St. Louis Children`s Hospital.

When Dr. Silva heard the AliveCor device was being tested on adults, she asked the manufacturer for permission to test it on patients at Children`s.

She sees many advantages to the idea.

‘We can take care of them faster because as soon as they can upload the data, I can give them the answer on how to best care for themselves and at the same time we are reducing health care costs,’ Silva said.

“Going to the hospital for a child is a very traumatic experience so anytime I can that out of the picture, I think I am doing them a great service not just for their mental well-being but our relationship as well.”

As for little Vivian, she was born with a condition called Supra Ventricular Tachycardia, which causes her heart to sometimes beat irregularly and rapidly. A normal baby`s heart rate is about 120 beats per minute.  Vivian`s can soar to 275.

‘She had an episode on Easter evening,’ Carmen Agniel said. ‘Everything was closed but I was able to pick up a strip, send it over to Dr. Silva`s team, they reviewed it, gave me a call back and were able to increase her medicine to the appropriate dose that night,’ she said.

So far, doctors running the St. Louis trial have been able to make a diagnosis based on the Alivecor EKG results 98 percent of the time.

The device is not a substitute for a full EKG at a doctor`s office because it only tests the heart`s rhythm and rate.
But that simplicity also makes it easy for parents to read the results themselves and know whether what is happening with their child is an emergency or an anomaly.

There are 37 children in the study ranging in age from 2 months to 18 years old.

The AliveCor has already been approved by the FDA for use by adults.

“This is just the beginning,” Silva said.

“I think this is a really exciting time to be a part of medicine.”

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