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Recognizing Different Arrhythmias: There’s An App For That

The recognition and management of cardiac arrhythmias is a must-have clinical skill for residents and physicians, and one that is often not well-taught at some institutions.

For example, deciding whether a patient is in a shockable rhythm, realizing what medications should or should not be given in a particular situation, or assessing the degree of atrioventricular block, can all be important considerations in patient care.

The Arrhythmias app, designed by Abe Balsamo, recently cracked the Top 10 list of most-downloaded medical apps in the app store.  This app represents Mr. Balsamo’s first foray into the app world, though he has several other apps in development, according to his website  The app’s growing popularity has been driven by its point-of-care abilities that appeal to healthcare professionals, especially emergency medical personnel.

Read below the jump to see how the Arrhythmias app can assist healthcare professionals with the recognition of different arrhythmias.

The home screen of the app opens with a bare-bones list of the various arrhythmias discussed in the app:

  • Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)
  • Atrial Flutter (AFlutter)
  • Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)
  • Atrioventricular Nodal Reenty Tachycardia (AVNRT)
  • Premature Atrial Contractions (PACs)
  • Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs)
  • Multifocal Atrial Tachycardia (MAT)
  • Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome (WPW)
  • Ventricular Tachycardia (VTach)
  • Ventricular Fibrillation (VFib)
  • Torsades de Pointes (Torsades)
  • First Degree AV Block
  • Second Degree AV Blocks (Wenckebach/Mobitz II)
  • Third Degree AV Block
  • Asystole

Here, we take a look at the atrial fibrillation section as an example.  The top of each section includes a section of a single-lead rhythm strip — not a full EKG — depicting the arrhythmia of interest.  Unfortunately, the rhythm strips cannot be zoomed in or extended.  Below the rhythm strip are several paragraphs of text discussing the arrhythmia.

As a second example, we look at WPW, or Wolff-Parkinson-White, with its characteristic delta waves.


Notice that several arrhythmias, such as this one, include some basic details on management.  Moreover, observe that several references are cited in the text, as shown here.


The app includes a brief bibliography with the cited references from the text (right).  Most are general resources (Up-To-Date, E-medicine, Epocrates), but several are strong peer-reviewed publications.

As shown here, the Arrhythmias app is a streamlined, bare-bones collection of single-lead rhythm strips with a minimal amount of associated text, aiding with the recognition of different arrhythmias, but lacking full EKG’s and sufficient detail on management to be of great assistance for physicians.  Nonetheless, it appears to represent a strong resource for emergency medical personnel and nurses because of its ability to assist with the recognition of different arrhythmias.


  • The Arrhythmias app costs $0.99 in the app store.


  • Simple organization and navigation with no wasted clicks
  • Good variety of arrhythmias (full list above)
  • Includes references, content appears appropriate for target audiences


  • Only basic shallow coverage of each arrhythmia, often lacking for management
  • Only contains single-lead rhythm strip tracings, not full EKG’s


  • The Arrhythmias app by Abe Balsamo does provide a brief introduction to arrhythmias, but is frequently lacking in detail, especially when it comes to management.
  • Nevertheless, it represents a useful point-of-care resource for nurses and emergency medicine personnel, especially for assistance with recognition of different heart rhythms.

iTunes link:

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

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