The New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) has undertaken a groundbreaking pilot program using mobile application technology to screen Thoroughbred horses for cardiac arrhythmias prior to racing.

The program, led by New York State Equine Medical Director Scott E. Palmer, VMD, Dipl. ABVP, will test the feasibility of using a smartphone-compatible heart monitor, the AliveCor Mobile ECG, to get diagnostic recordings and determine the prevalence of arrhythmias in a population of racehorses.

“To ensure equine health and safety, we must use every tool at our disposal,” said Palmer. “This mobile application has the capability to revolutionize how we evaluate horses both before and after a race by giving veterinarians instant access to important cardiac information. In the end, we hope this technology will enable us to greatly reduce the risk of sudden cardiovascular events in racehorses.”

AliveCor manufactures a veterinary heart monitor, as well as a monitor for humans, that is compatible with most iOS and Android mobile devices. The device is attached to the back of a smartphone or mobile device and then placed against the side of the horse just behind the left elbow to obtain a single-lead electrocardiogram (ECG). The ECG is labeled with the horse’s information and saved to a database. Importantly, the ECG data can also be sent directly from the phone to a veterinary cardiologist for consultation.

The use of smartphone-compatible heart monitors allows veterinarians to quickly and easily monitor horses’ heart health moments before they leave their stall for the paddock and track. This new practice gives veter