Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.
Heart problems can be difficult to catch early, but now there is something very small that is making a huge difference in diagnosing these problems.
It’s called the Zio Patch. It's a new high-tech way to help fight heart disease.
Cardiologist Dr. Steven Higgins calls it "the Netflix of heart care."
"To put it simply, it's a big Band-Aid with two little electrodes on the corners," says Dr. Higgins.
The two-by-five inch patch can wirelessly record heart beats for about two weeks at a time.
"The monitor allows you to check out the heart's rhythm over a longer period of time, and we found out he had two rhythm problems for him, one fast and one slow, and we were able to treat them both,” said Dr. Higgins.
Doctors at Scripps Health recently studied it on 285 patients, including 89-year-old Ken Curzon, one of Dr. Higgins’ patients.
While looking at Curzon’s EKG, Dr. Higgins noticed there’s a pause where his heart beat stops. Figuring out exactly what was wrong with Curzon’s heart took awhile.
“I had a lot of tests, but they never could detect that I had a slow beat and then a fast beat,” said Curzon.
Curzon couldn’t figure it out because for more than sixty years, the Holter monitor is what doctors have been using to record a patient’s heart beat.
“You put it on your belt,” said Dr. Higgins.
The Holter monitor was designed to record a heart beat for up to 48 hours, looking for irregularities. But it can’t get wet, and it’s not exactly comfortable.
“Clumsy,” said Curzon. “The earlier one was kind of like carrying a camera around all the time, hanging down here.”
Doctors had Curzon try something new; the Zio Patch.
“It kind of surprised me because it's so small,” said Curzon.
Thanks to that sticker, this 89-year-old is now back to work, with a pacemaker, and peace of mind.
“I feel really good. I have much more energy,” said Curzon.
The other advantage of the Zio patch is that when a patient is done with it, they just mail it back to the doctor. And, they’re recyclable.