High-tech vests creates 3-D heart map, locates abnormal heartbeats

Health

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Peering into a patient’s heart and locating potentially-deadly irregular heartbeats takes surgery with a catheter. But, a new high-tech vest is a new way to bypass that in some cases.

CardioInsight is a vest is created from hundreds of electrodes that yield a 3-D map of a patient’s heart, which helps doctors find abnormal heartbeats.

It is a view from the outside in, said Dr. Amin Al-Ahmad, cardiac electrophysiologist at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David’s Medical Center.

“If you’re tracking someone who’s staying on the phone you can tell where the neighborhood is, this gives us the apartment.”

Locating the start point of an irregular heartbeat can show doctors where to enter the heart, how to cut off the abnormal activity and avoid healthy tissue.

St. David’s unveiled the technology at its EPLive 2018 conference this week. The two-day educational event draws cardiologists from around the world every two years.

Al-Ahmad said the high-tech vest is completely personalized.

“It actually utilizes the patient’s own anatomy,” he said. “So, we can see exactly what that patient’s heart look like because everyone’s heart looks a little differently.”

Right now, doctors only use 12 electrodes to look inside a patient’s heart. With the cardio vest, doctors can have access to more than 250 electrodes. St. David’s Medical Center is one of only 11 hospitals nationwide that have the system.

The vest is currently only used to find an irregular heartbeat, also called an arrhythmia. If left unchecked the condition could cause a stroke or heart failure. Al-Ahmad says this early technology could change that.

“Right now, we’re putting catheters into the heart. Maybe in the future, we may be able to focus energy on arrhythmias noninvasively,” he said.

Patients usually wear the cardio vest for a few minutes in a lab or doctor’s office. But with extended wear throughout the day, doctors believe the vest could show them an abnormal heartbeat in action; and, exactly how it affects each patient.

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