New wrist sensor could save heart attack patients critical time in ER
A new device designed to accurately and quickly sense whether a cardiac arrest patient also has a heart valve blockage that needs urgent treatment is now undergoing trials in Seattle.
Cardiologists and emergency physicians at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle are testing the Tropsensor, which has been designed to detect telltale troponin levels within 3-5 minutes of being fitted on the patient’s wrist.
Troponin, a protein found in the heart muscle, appears in the bloodstream when heart damage has occurred and an artery has been blocked, signifying a heart attack. Detecting this as early as possible in patients that have arrived at the ER allowed medical staff to treat this serious condition as quickly as possible.
Right now, triaging this condition involves an electrocardiogram (ECG), which can lack accuracy for those who have had a cardiac arrest, or a troponin blood test, which can cost an ill patient precious time waiting for pathology results.
“Early recognition of acute coronary occlusion could allow us to rapidly restore blood flow to the heart, which improves the short- and long-term outcomes for patients who have unrecognized heart attacks,” said Dr. Graham Nichol, an emergency physician at the University of Washington School of Medicine and director of Harborview’s Center for Prehospital Emergency Care.
Dr. Nichol, who is supervising the trial, added that the device could also be used on patients who present to hospital with chest pain, in order to identify any dangerous blockages.
While cardiac arrest involves an electrical malfunction that causes the heart to stop, some patients who are resuscitated and taken to hospital have also suffered a heart attack due to a blocked artery. Identifying the blockage fast can literally mean the difference between life and death.
The Tropsensor study will see 30 patients test the wrist device, and their outcomes will be studied over time, Dr. Nichol said, with results of the trial out next year.
Source: University of Washington
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