There was a time when a horse’s ECG would be studied in specialist clinics only with the horse standing attached to a large piece of equipment like the one shown below (1) (rescued from a skip at the Animal Health Trust Balaton Lodge).
In the past 20 years the ability to record ECGs during exercise has become routine for most equine vets in practice. The market leader in this field has been the Televet system. However, in recent years an increasing number of smartphone applications for human, dog and horse ECG have become available. At the Olympic test event in August 2019 a smartphone ECG from Polar, one of the first manufacturers of human and horse heart rate monitors, was demonstrated (2).
A paper published this week by a group from the University of Minnesota studied the accuracy of the AliveCor smartphone-based ECG system versus what many would consider the industry gold standard for horses – the Televet ECG. They studied 15 horses at rest and found that the AliveCor provided accurate heart rate and RR interval data but that for some of the commonly used diagnostic measurements the AliveCor was not as good as the Televet. The authors concluded that “Overall, the AliveCor is comparable to the Televet for heart rate and RR measurement, and for the detection of non-pathogenic arrhythmias with acceptable agreement between observers”. The difference is that the AliveCor device is significantly cheaper than the Televet, but also that the AliveCor would not be suitable for exercising ECG. If you are looking for a resting ECG system then the Polar app which works with the new generation transmitters is also worth considering.
Welch-Huston B, Durward-Akhurst S, Norton E, Ellingson L, Rendahl A, McCue M. (2020) Comparison between smartphone electrocardiography and standard three-lead base apex electrocardiography in healthy horses. Vet Rec. 2020 May 15. pii: vetrec-2019-105759.