Mobile-ECG screening in rural pharmacies: rates of atrial fibrillation and associated risk factors

Published:February 01, 2020DOI:


      • CHA₂DS₂-VASc scores significantly higher in this rural sample than in US averages.
      • mECG screening yielded a 3–4% rate of positive AFib, higher than similar studies.
      • Results suggest potential value in using mECG technology to screen in rural areas.



      Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a growing health concern, affecting more than 40 million patients worldwide and increasing stroke risk by five times. Community screening initiatives in rural healthcare establishments are becoming more feasible with the development of innovative, mobile-ECG (mECG) technology. The purpose of this research was to characterize increased rates of stroke risk factors and to determine AFib incidence in rural, pharmacy settings.


      The researchers examined the prevalence of risk factors associated with AFib and calculated CHA₂DS₂-VASc stroke risk scores in a previously undiagnosed AFib community sample of 250 participants. Eligible participants at two rural pharmacies were administered a 1-lead mECG reading. Participants were then asked to complete questionnaires on demographic and medical history information. All participants were given educational materials on AFib and medical referrals when indicated.


      Prevalence rates of six, known independent stroke risk factors (CHA₂DS₂-VASc scores: (2.68 ± 1.35)) were significantly higher in the study sample than reported national US averages. Screening via mECG indicated preliminary AFib rates of approximately 4%; however, upon independent adjudication of the readings from three electrophysiologists AFib prevalence ranged between 1% and 8%.


      Collectively, an alarming rate of untreated stroke risk in a rural pharmacy sample was identified by the researchers utilizing mECG technology. These results suggest potential value to the use of mECG technology to screen for AFib in at-risk communities.



      AFib (atrial fibrillation), APP (application), ECG (electrocardiogram), mECG (mobile-ECG)
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