Posted by Admin on March 19, 2007
There is a new technology being looked at by doctors and public health officials as a better way to detect heart blockages early on, before they cause a heart attack. Given the fact that heart disease is America’s number one killer, looking for it before it happens--so that we know we need to be aggressive at doing something about it--is the goal.

But, screening exercise treadmill tests are hardly accurate, and they’re really not for healthy patients with no symptoms. CAT scans, on the other hand, are expensive. Firefighter Mike Zanfardino clearly has a high risk job. But what is most likely to kill him—heart disease-- he can’t see or feel. “I took my physical back in July with the fire department and they told me my cholesterol was really, really high. My mother had two heart attacks.”

How can we tell if mike already has some coronary artery blockages? Maybe a new test called Cardiosound could provide the answer. Fire Chief Albert Anderson, JR of the Nesconset Long Island Firehouse says, “It is very exciting, I think it is a great tool for future fire departments to adapt for their medical doctors to do their physicals with. I’m interested in this technology because it will prevent my members from having heart attacks.”

 Maybe. The easily portable device is kind of like a high tech stethoscope, finding areas where there is a tiny amounts of turbulence of blood flow in the coronary or heart arteries, caused by the beginnings of blockages. These can’t be heard with a normal stethoscope. Inventor Sailor Mohler says, “This is a patented censor, you just don’t put a microphone on a person’s chest wall like this in order to detect sound, it just won’t work. This fits here, here, here on a chest wall 9 locations.”

It tells you what arteries are affected. “We use some very sophisticated signal processing to show those patterns,” says Mohler. The areas affected are converted into a visual display. This can detect coronary arteries which have occlusions as small as 30 percent of the artery diameter blocked. There are still many questions, including, should this be done on everyone at their physical, or as a replacement for exercise stress test in those with symptoms, like atypical chest pain.

“I think it has the potential of replacing the treadmill test,” comments Mohler. “You can detect it early enough where you can intervene with therapies other than angioplasties.” Early therapies, as in Mike’s case. “I started taking my cholesterol medication, change my diet, exercise and all that. I got it under control,” says Mike. The company says new studies are being performed comparing their device to that of a cat scanner at a major medical center in New York.

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