Multi-centre randomised controlled trial of a smart phone-based event recorder alongside standard care versus standard care for patients presenting to the Emergency Department with palpitations and pre-syncope - the IPED (Investigation of Palpitations in the ED) study: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Trials. 2018 Dec 29;19(1):711. doi: 10.1186/s13063-018-3098-1.


Background: Palpitations and pre-syncope are together responsible for 300,000 annual Emergency Department (ED) attendances in the United Kingdom (UK). Diagnosis of the underlying rhythm is difficult as many patients are fully recovered on ED arrival; and examination and presenting electrocardiogram (ECG) are commonly normal. The only way to establish the underlying heart rhythm is to capture an ECG during symptoms. Recent technology advances have led to several novel ECG monitoring devices appearing on the market. This trial aims to compare the symptomatic rhythm detection rate at 90 days of one such smart phone-based event recorder (AliveCor Heart Monitor and AliveECG) with standard care for participants presenting to the ED with palpitations and pre-syncope and no obvious cause in the ED.

Methods/design: This is a multi-centre hospital ED / Acute Medical Unit (AMU) open label, randomised controlled trial. Participants will be recruited in 10 tertiary and district general hospitals in the UK. Participants aged ≥ 16 years presenting with an episode of palpitations or pre-syncope with no obvious cause and whose underlying ECG rhythm during these episodes remains undiagnosed after clinical assessment will be included. Participants will be randomised to either: (1) the intervention arm, standard care plus the use of a smart phone-based event recorder; or (2) the control arm, standard care. Primary endpoint will be symptomatic rhythm detection rate at 90 days. A number of secondary clinical, process and cost-effectiveness endpoints will be collected and analysed. Analysis will be on an intention-to-treat basis.

Discussion: The Investigation of Palpitations in the ED (IPED) study aims to recruit 242 participants across 10 hospital sites. It will be the first study to investigate the ability of a smart phone-based event recorder to detect symptomatic cardiac rhythms compared to standard care for ED patients with palpitations and pre-syncope with no obvious cause in the ED. This smart phone event recorder will allow ED patients who have presented with palpitations or pre-syncope to record their ECG tracing if they have a further episode and may increase the rate of underlying rhythm diagnosis.

Trial registration:, NCT02783898 . Registered on 26 May 2016.

Keywords: Ambulatory electrocardiography monitoring; Cardiac arrhythmias; Palpitations; Pre-syncope.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / therapy
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory / instrumentation*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Smartphone*
  • Syncope / diagnosis*
  • Syncope / physiopathology
  • Syncope / therapy
  • Telemetry / instrumentation*
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom

Associated data