Can you help us help doctors prevent stroke and dementia?
If you are aged 60 and over and attending a UK Biobank imaging assessment (MRI) appointment, you may be asked if you would be prepared to help us learn more about a common heart rhythm disturbance. Professor Barbara Casadei from Oxford University, who leads the heart monitoring study, explains why this is so important.
We will ask some participants to wear the special heart monitor for two weeks. If they agree, they’ll be helping researchers shed light on a heart rhythm disturbance called atrial fibrillation (AFib) that is often intermittent and free of symptoms but may be linked to unexpected strokes and cognitive decline.
A short one-off assessment (for example with an electrocardiogram/ECG) is unlikely to pick up intermittent arrhythmias, which is why we are asking participants to wear a special monitor for two weeks.
The heart monitoring device is known as the ZIO Patch (pictured) and is provided by a company called iRhythm Technologies (California), which has also developed and validated a data processing and analysis system to detect different types of arrhythmia. The ZIO patch is wireless, discreet, about the size of a large plaster and weighs just 24g. The patch is held on by a special adhesive, so some men may require a small area of chest hair to be shaved. Though the ZIO Patch cannot be submerged in water, it is water resistant (for showering), and takes about 24 hours to bond to the skin. The patch should not interfere with day to day activities, with no need to change or charge batteries.
The UK Biobank Imaging Study is ideally suited to undertake this important work since, together with the data participants have already provided about their health, information from heart and brain scans, which are undertaken at the assessment, will provide vital data to advance our understanding of the impact of intermittent arrhythmias on heart and brain health. Blood samples provided previously will also advance our knowledge of genetic determinants of abnormal heart rhythm.