CARDIAC patients in North Wales will soon be able to have heart monitors fitted from the comfort of their home.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) are offering around 1,300 patients the opportunity to have heart monitors sent to them in the post, where they can be fitted and analysed without needing to attend one of North Wales’ three district general hospitals.

The initiative has been introduced in response to reduced clinic space and staffing levels because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CardioSTAT monitors, provided by medical equipment company Icentia, detect patients’ heart rhythm and electrical activity in a procedure known as an electrocardiogram (ECG).

Sensors attached to the skin are used to detect the electrical signals produced by the heart each time it beats.

Helen Wilkinson, BCUHB’s strategic manager for Cardiac Services, said: "Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, heart monitors were fitted in clinics on health board premises. Patients then returned the monitor and the results were analysed. Due to the pandemic, we are unable to bring these patients on to our acute sites because of the risk of COVID-19 infection, reduced clinic capacity and reduced staffing levels.

“We need to be innovative with our diagnostics whilst keeping our patients safe and introducing this partnership with Icentia is the most obvious solution.”

The remote heart monitors are typically used for patients who suffer from troublesome palpitations or episodes of dizziness.

The results will be analysed by Icentia and any significant abnormalities will be highlighted immediately to NHS staff, enabling patients to receive prompt treatment, which can range from changes to medication, to having pacemakers or even cardiac defibrillator devices fitted.

Claire Gallagher, head of Cardiac Physiology at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, said: “Due to concerns raised by patients about coming into the department I did some research to look at alternative ways we could still provide a service without bringing patients in unnecessarily.

"I contacted Icentia and received two monitors on trial which worked well, providing high quality recordings from the safety of the patient’s home.”

Dr Richard Cowell, lead consultant cardiologist for BCUHB, said: “There is an increasing number of patients waiting for continuous or prolonged ECG monitoring and some high risk patients are understandably very worried about attending the hospital. Typically these patients will have troublesome palpitations, episodes of dizziness or even black outs.

“Abnormalities detected on these monitors can result in treatment with drugs to prevent palpitations, anticoagulants to prevent stokes, pacemaker treatment or even implantation of cardiac defibrillator devices”.

All eligible patients will be contacted directly by BCUHB.