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The Evolution of Cardiac Monitoring with Rod Passman, MD

As heart conditions like arrhythmia become increasingly common, heart monitoring is becoming an even more important tool for disease prevention and treatment. Northwestern Medicine cardiac electrophysiologist Rod Passman, MD, who has over three decades of experience in the field, reviews the history of cardiac monitoring and looks to the future. He details his pioneering use of implantable heart monitors for arrhythmia in stroke patients and his partnership with a consumer electronics company to bring wearable cardiac monitors to patients.


"What we're trying to do is a paradigm shift. We need to personalize care. We need to understand the genetics and the anatomy and how likely one is to respond to a particular therapy so that we can customize care."

Rod Passman, MD

Episode Notes

In a little over a century, heart monitoring devices weighing hundreds of pounds have been improved and compressed to devices that we can wear on our wrists. Rod Passman, MD, takes us through a brief history of cardiac monitoring and his innovations in the field of cardiac electrophysiology.

These innovations come at a time when more than six million Americans are living with the the most common type of arrhythmia, or abnormal heart beat, called atrial fibrillation (AFib) — a number that's projected to nearly double by 2030. AFib can cause blood clots, heart failure and stroke.

Passman leads the Northwestern Center for Arrhythmia Research, an interdisciplinary collaborative that aims to discover the underlying causes of arrhythmias and improve future treatment. 

Other topics covered:

  • Atrial fibrillation can be difficult to detect, even with an electrocardiogram (EKG), because AFib episodes can be asymptomatic and intermittent.
  • The standard of care for patients with AFib and stroke risk factors is the prescription of blood thinners for the rest of their lives.
  • Passman found that implantable cardiac monitors could reduce patients’ time on blood thinners by 95 percent. However, implantable monitors are expensive and invasive. In response to these findings, Passman partnered with a consumer electronics company to use wearable monitors at a fraction of the price. 
  • Passman shares insights and developments from the Center for Arrhythmia Research, such as 4D Flow MRI, a novel imaging technique that can measure blood flow of the heart.
  • The future of cardiac surveillance may include technology like car steering wheels, phone cameras and beds capable of monitoring heart rhythm.

Additional Reading: 

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Recorded on Aug. 25, 2021.

Continuing Medical Education Credit

Physicians who listen to this podcast may claim continuing medical education credit after listening to an episode of this program.

Target Audience

Academic/Research, Multiple specialties

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify the research interests and initiatives of Feinberg faculty.
  2. Discuss new updates in clinical and translational research.
Accreditation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine designates this Enduring Material for a maximum of 0.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Disclosure Statement

Rod Passman, MD, discloses financial relationships with UpToDate, Inc., Medtronic, Inc., Abbott Laboratories, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. Peer reviewer, Kaustubha Patil, MD, has nothing to disclose. Course director, Robert Rosa, MD, has nothing to disclose. Planning committee member, Erin Spain, has nothing to disclose. Host, Amanda Dee, has nothing to disclose. Feinberg School of Medicine's CME Leadership and Staff have nothing to disclose: Clara J. Schroedl, MD, Medical Director of CME, Sheryl Corey, Manager of CME, Allison McCollum, Senior Program Coordinator, Katie Daley, Senior Program Coordinator, and Rhea Alexis Banks, Administrative Assistant 2.

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