Cloutier Barbour, C., Danforth, M. D., Murphy, H. et al. 2020. Monitoring great ape heart health through innovative electrocardiogram technology: Training methodologies and welfare implications. Zoo Biology 39(6), 443-447.
Assessing and treating cardiovascular disease (or heart disease) is a growing concern for institutions housing great apes, as it is a major cause of mortality in all four taxa managed in human care. As part of a proactive monitoring plan, zoological managers and veterinarians often elect to perform electrocardiograms (ECGs) on their great ape populations. ECGs noninvasively evaluate cardiac electrical activity, and are thereby capable of providing information regarding heart function. This electrical signature is transcribed as a visual display of waveforms, referred to as telemetry strips, and can detect irregularities in heart rhythm, also known as arrhythmia. While traditional 6- or 12-lead ECGs are recommended periodically as part of a thorough heart performance evaluation, here we discuss the KardiaMobile (KM) device as an additional primate welfare tool. KM is a small, Food and Drug Administration-cleared, clinical-grade mobile ECG monitor that requires only 30-s of pressure to flag heart rate or arrhythmic abnormalities. We detail the training process and applicability to great apes in human care.