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Arch Hellen Med, 30(3), May-June 2013, 362-368


Telecardiology and its clinical applications

A. Tsipis,1 E. Petrou,1 A. Kastania,2 P. Kourkoveli,1 M. Boutsikou,1 E. Bousoula,1 S. Mavrogeni,1 S. Kossida2
1Division of Cardiology, "Onassis" Cardiac Surgery Center, Athens,
2Biomedical Research Foundation, Academy of Athens, Greece

The success of any new telemedicine application depends on a large number of sensitive factors, including cost-effectiveness, efficacy, patient satisfaction, the related doctor-patient communication, and clinical outcomes. Telecardiology is the use of electronic and communication technologies in the practice of cardiology when distance separates the patient from the healthcare provider. The application of telecardiology is best when provided as a part of an integrated healthcare system. Its applications can be divided into the following phases: Prehospital, aimed at the timely diagnosis of acute cardiac diseases, namely acute myocardial infarction and life-threatening arrhythmias, in-hospital, aimed at the optimal collaboration between healthcare units, and ambulatory, including teleconferences between cardiologists and general practitioners about the monitoring and follow up of patients. Several studies have demonstrated that telecardiology applied for the diagnosis of acute coronary syndromes significantly reduces the time to primary coronary angioplasty, thus increasing both the survival rate and the quality of life of patients through minimization of the extent of myocardial necrosis. For patients with atrial fibrillation, telecardiology application can lead to diagnosis of the first episode, or to treatment modification for patients with the chronic form of the disease. When applied to patients with heart failure telecardiology monitoring may result, among other benefits, in significant reduction in hospital admissions. Sudden cardiac death is a major public health problem affecting 500,000 patients annually in the United States alone. Telecardiology contributes to the close and constant monitoring of patients at high risk for malignant arrhythmias and sudden death, such as cardiac arrest survivors, patients discharged from hospital after myocardial infarction and patients with cardiomyopathy. In conclusion, telecardiology may play a significant role in reducing distance and time between the people in need of healthcare services and their healthcare providers, with evident clinical, epidemiological and financial benefits.

Key words: Acute coronary syndrome, Atrial fibrillation, Heart failure, Sudden cardiac death, Telecardiology.

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