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With $30 Million Infusion, Mobile Health Startup Bets On AI To Flag Heart Conditions

AliveCor, the Silicon Valley-based maker of the $99 Kardia Mobile, a portable electrocardiogram device, is now betting that artificial intelligence will help doctors monitor patients’ heart conditions. Its machine learning algorithms will automatically flag abnormal ECGs, leading to early detection of common heart arrhythmias and helping to prevent strokes.

The company, which is led by former Microsoft and Google exec Vic Gundotra, on Thursday unveiled Kardia Pro, a platform that connects doctors and patients. It uses AI to detect atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia, which it then flags for physicians.

AliveCor also said it has raised an additional $30 million in funding, led by Omron Healthcare, a maker of personal wellness products, bringing its total financing to date to more than $43 million. The Mayo Clinic, which last year entered into a collaboration agreement with AliveCor, is also an investor. The company would not say how much capital the healthcare provider is investing.

The Kardia Mobile has been well received by heart cardiologists, and some say the new platform will greatly enhance its utility.

“This is a monumental development,” says Dr. Ronald Karlsberg, a clinical professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and the UCLA School of Medicine. “It represents a transformational empowerment for patients that is going to be very important for arrhythmias and strokes.” Dr. Karlsberg, who sits on AliveCor’s medical advisory board, says that in the future, the Kardia Pro platform could help detect other cardiac conditions.

AliveCor, which was founded in 2010, raised its profile when Gundotra, a Google executive who led the company’s unsuccessful bid to build a social networking platform that would compete with Facebook, joined as CEO in 2015.

“We are revolutionizing the management of cardiovascular disease,” Gundotra said in an interview. “It’s a win for everyone.”

More than 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It remains the number one cause of death for both men and women and is responsible for more deaths than all forms of cancer combined.

Gundotra often compares the impact of the company’s Kardia Mobile device, about half the size of a credit card and only a few millimeters in thickness, to the widespread availability of the thermometer more than a century ago. The device, which has been approved by the FDA, has allowed patients to get an ECG in about a minute while on the go, rather than having to show up at a medical facility for a diagnostic reading.

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