Medical Minute 2-9: Medical First to Keep Your Heart Going

By: Vanessa Welch Email
By: Vanessa Welch Email

A heart attack strikes. A heart stops. It happened to Carl Honaker.
Three months and several stents later, doctors say Carl could be implanted with a new heart attack warning system called the Guardian Alert System.

"This is really revolutionary technology."

This pacemaker-like device is implanted in the chest. A wire extending into the heart continuously analyzes heart rhythm -- looking for signs of a blocked coronary artery.

"This is looking for subtle changes that are associated with a decrease in blood flow to a region of the heart," said Andrew Kaplan, M.D. Cardiac Electrophysiologist at Banner Heart Hospital.

If the system detects a heart problem, the device vibrates in the chest. A pager the patient carries with them also flashes and beeps and tells them to call 9-1-1.
And when you get to the doctor with chest pains, instead of their stethoscope, they may pull out the world's smallest ultrasound machine.

"I can turn it around and show the patient their own heart and when a patient sees their own heart, it really makes an impression, so if their walls are too thin or if one of their valves is leaking," said Tony DeMaria, M.D. U.C. San Diego.

Using 3-D technology, U.C. San Diego Doctor Tony Demaria can see the size, shape and function of the heart in real-time. Whether you're at home, at the doctor's office or in the O-R, new technologies that can bring peace of mind and save lives.

"I'm just glad I'm healthy and alive."


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