New wrist sensor could save heart attack patients critical time in ER

A new device designed to accurately and quickly detect whether a patient in cardiac arrest also has a heart valve blockage requiring urgent treatment is currently being tested in Seattle.

Cardiologists and emergency physicians at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle are testing the Tropsensor, which was designed to detect telltale levels of troponin within 3 to 5 minutes of placing it on a patient’s wrist.

Troponin, a protein found in 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 arriving at the emergency room has allowed medical staff to treat this serious condition as quickly as possible.

Currently, triage for this condition involves an electrocardiogram (ECG), which can be inaccurate for those who have had a cardiac arrest, or a blood test for troponin, which can cost a sick patient valuable time in waiting for pathology results.

“Early recognition of acute coronary occlusion could allow us to quickly restore blood flow to the heart, improving short- and long-term outcomes for patients who have unrecognized heart attacks,” said Dr. Graham Nichol, emergency physician at the University. of the Washington School of Medicine and director of Harborview’s Center for Prehospital Emergency Care.

Dr Nichol, who is overseeing the trial, added that the device could also be used on patients who present to hospital with chest pain, to identify any dangerous blockages.

While cardiac arrest involves an electrical malfunction that causes the heart to stop, some resuscitated patients taken to hospital have also suffered a heart attack due to a clogged artery. Identifying the blockage quickly can literally mean the difference between life and death.

The Tropsensor study will see 30 patients test the wrist device, and their results will be studied over time, Dr Nichol said, with trial results coming next year.

Source: University of Washington

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