Albury man's appy to take part in heart studies

AN Albury man is part of ground-breaking medical research that involves using an iPhone to keep him alive.

Barry Prater is using his phone to manage his irregular heartbeat as part of an international research project.

Mr Prater was told in April 2012 he had atrial fibrillation after he had a series of mini heart attacks at the gym without knowing it.

He was flown to Melbourne where he was told he needed stents in two of his three blocked arteries.

He had a pacemaker inserted last October after he had a stroke and has been in and out of hospital since.

To manage his atrial fibrillation, Mr Prater volunteered for studies by Britain’s AF Association and Healthy eHeart in the US using a phone app to monitor his heart.

He checks his heart rate using the AliveCor app by resting a special phone case against his fingers or chest.

He defines his symptoms and sends the information to the companies collecting data.

“When I take a reading, it transmits overseas and they use the data to find ways to better manage AF and advance education,” he said.

“I take my heart rate on my phone and email it to my doctor — one time he replied telling me to come in right away.”

Atrial fibrillation limits Mr Prater’s lifestyle. It forced him to quit his job as a gambling counsellor with St David’s Care, Albury. It also ended gym visits.

“I can’t go far from hospitals and I can’t go overseas, which is what I always dreamed of doing when I retired,” Mr Prater said.

“My family often check on me and my daughters track my iPhone using Find my Friend.

“I was driving back from Wagga one day and I got caught in road works. Next thing I get a phone call asking if I’m OK.”

Mr Prater said a free Stroke Foundation booklet released this week about living with atrial fibrillation was of great benefit to sufferers and he wished he had known more about the condition when he was diagnosed.

“I remember the cardiologist saying: ‘you’ve got atrial fibrillation’ and I said: ‘Oh that’s wonderful, what’s that?’”

He said he had become involved in the studies in the hope more people become informed about the condition. He also hoped to talk to more community groups about his experiences.

“I talk to Rotary groups and let people know of the signs,” he said,

“Our bodies talk to us and we need to listen.”