CardioComm Solutions Chosen for Study in Dogs with Atrial Fibrillation

In humans, atrial fibrillation (Afib) is the most common type of arrhythmia, a problem with the rate or rhythm of a heartbeat. The heart works through an amazingly synchronized pattern of electrical signals, but in the case of atrial fibrillation, the signals are disorganized, causing the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) to fibrillate, or quiver and beat chaotically.

Because of the disturbed heart rhythm, blood flow is affected, which is why people living with Afib face a higher risk of stroke. The American Heart Association estimates that about 2.7 million Americans are living with Afib. In Canada, the frequency is in line with the rate in the U.S., with an estimated 350,000 people living with Afib.

Electorcardioversion, ablation and antiarrhythmic medications are common practices to treat Afib, depending on the symptoms and type of Afib.

It certainly doesn’t get the mainstream attention, but Afib is also regularly diagnosed in animals, including, but not limited to, dogs and horses. Often times the discovery is incidental as, obviously, a Doberman doesn’t do a great job at telling an owner that its heart was just beating out of rhythm.

Many times, the Afib is asymptomatic. Other times, there is an underlying problem, for example heart disease, at the root of the Afib, which can make the condition a little easier to recognize.

Toronto-based CardioComm Solutions, Inc. (TSX-Venture:EKG) is contributing to research and treatment of animals suffering from Afib.

The company’s business is centred on its patented technology used in products for recording, viewing, analyzing and storing electrocardiograms (ECGs) for diagnosis and management of cardiac patients. CardioComm’s HeartCheck and SMART monitoring ECG technologies were designed with humans in mind, but they’ve long been used on animals as well. Now the technologies are heading to Colorado State (CSU) to give a hand to some four-legged friends.

The company said on Wednesday that they forged a research collaboration with CSU’s College of Veterninary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Jan Bright, a professor of cardiology at CSU, is heading the study. The clinical research, which is funded by the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (CHF), involves home monitoring ECGs of dogs with heart disease and sustained Afib by researchers and owners. The trial is evaluating the clinical benefit of ranolazine for maintaining normal cardiac rhythm in dogs following cardioversion of Afib.

Ranolazine is a drug to treat angina that is sold under the brand name Ranexa by Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Ranexa in 2006. Gilead is providing the ranolazine for the trial.

CardioComm is providing its HeartCheck handheld ECG devices for weekly ECG recordings of participating dogs. The devices are utilizing a detachable ECG cable with three self-adhesive electrodes that will be attached to the footpads of the dogs.

The recordings of the heart rhythms are collected and stored for viewing on the devices, as well as being transmitted through CardioComm’s GEMS Home software for analysis. The cardiac rhythm of each dog is scheduled to be analyzed weekly for up to one year using the HeartCheck devices.

This isn’t market moving news for CardioComm as shares or volume hasn’t changed much since the announcement. That being said, it does represent a deeper penetration into veterinary markets for the company and, with Thanksgiving recently passed in Canada and today in the U.S., a bit of a "feel-good" story for animal lovers looking for a better way to deal with Afib.