Study Looks to Predict Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risk

A promising new way to predict sudden cardiac arrest risk has been identified by medical researchers at the University of Buffalo.

For patients who are at the highest risk of sudden cardiac arrest, this is exciting news, as this research may give cardiologists an advanced screening tool to help those in the high-risk category and those most likely to benefit from receiving an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD).

ICDs are mainly used to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in patients with advanced heart disease, but many patients’ devices are never triggered.

New research suggests that imaging the degradation of nerve function in the heart may identify those patients at greatest risk of developing a life-threatening heart rhythm.

Using Positron Emission Tomography (PET), in the largest PET imaging study ever done on sudden cardiac arrest, researchers were able to measure the amount of nerve damage within the muscular tissue of the heart.

PET imaging is also able to show where nerves have died or become damaged due to inadequate blood flow.

Sudden cardiac arrest

“The principal question we posed with this study was whether the amount of nerve damage in the heart could predict sudden cardiac arrest,” says James A. Fallavollita, author on the study. “We found that when at least 38 percent of the heart was showed signs of nerve damage, there was a significant increase in the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.”

At this time, to determine whether an ICD is needed, doctors take a measurement of heart function called the ejection fraction; the percentage of blood pumped by the heart with each beat. An ejection fraction of 35 percent or less is a strong indicator of sudden cardiac arrest risk; these patients usually require an ICD.

This research is a prime example of translational medicine (the emerging field which focuses on using what is learned in pre-clinical studies to do smarter things in the clinic). In this case, the pre-clinical studies demonstrated that the risk of developing ventricular fibrillation (a deadly heart rhythm) was related to regional nerve damage.

“Ultimately, we wanted to develop an approach that could tackle the problem of identifying a larger portion of the patients with coronary artery disease who are at risk of developing sudden cardiac arrest,” explains John M. Canty, a principal investigator of the research. “Since many patients who suffer a cardiac arrest do not have severely depressed heart function, PET imaging may be able to identify high risk individuals who, in the future, could be considered candidates for an ICD.”

January Innovation – The ECG of the Future

What is Electrocardiography (ECG), and why is it useful? ECG is the interpretation of the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time. It is used to measure the rate and regularity of heartbeats as well as the size and position of the chambers, the presence of any damage to the heart, and the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart.

It sounds like having an ECG could be quite handy, right? Well yes, it would be, but who would want to spend thousands and have a large brick of a device lying around? Look at the size of that thing below, not me!

How about something you can trust to deliver accurate results and slip into your shirt pocket? Now we are talking.

ECG of the future

CardioComm’s new handheld HeartChecktm Pen does just that, it puts the benefits of an ECG in the palm of your hand. You may see hypochondriacs lining up for this device, but its use goes well beyond those who have health obsession on the mind.

The HeartCheck Pen would benefit any person interested in monitoring their health due to heart disease.  It could also be used to determine potential heart disease by assessing abnormal heart rhythms and muscle defects. From athletes to seniors, a wide range of consumers could benefit from this device.

“We feel the HeartCheck Pen is a true remote monitoring device because it is compact, easy to use, and takes accurate heart readings in only 30 seconds. The Pen may be used from anywhere, including at home, the office, the gym or in remote areas which are often inaccessible to common ECG machines,” said Etienne Grima, CardioComm Solutions’ CEO.

The device makes sending and storing ECGs easy. Up to 20 ECGs can be stored on the device, and once you hit that mark you can download the ECGs to your computer and print them off, or save some trees and send them electronically to your doc or clinic. The data can also be downloaded to GEMS™ Home, where repeated recordings can be managed in a personal health data record.

“What makes this product unique,” explained Grima, “is that after a consumer sends a selected heart rate recording to the C4 medical call-center over the internet using GEMS™ Home, the actual ECG recording will be reviewed and interpreted by an attending C4 physician. The ECG report will then be made available to the customer, again through GEM Home, where they may retrieve the ECG interpretation and use it in communicating with their own health care providers.”

The HeartCheck Pen definitely has some interesting advantages over its big brother, but is it something you would use? Take our poll below and tell us your thoughts.

[polldaddy poll=5893102]

For more information on this device, please visit CardioComm