New Cardiac Devices Aim to Save Lives

Upping the odds

Key Takeaways

  • The FDA is reviewing a new device that aims to increase blood flow to the brain and heart during medical emergencies.
  • The Neurescue device is one of a growing number of gadgets and software tools to get help to people experiencing heart trouble.
  • PulsePoint AED is a new smartphone app that can locate automatic defibrillators, or AEDs, which are commonly kept in public spaces.
Doctor using a defibrillator machine on a patient
Team Static / Getty Images

A new medical device can revive more people who are suffering from cardiac arrest, its manufacturer claims.

The FDA is reviewing the Neurescue device that aims to increase blood flow to the brain and heart during medical emergencies. It’s one of a growing number of gadgets and software tools aiming to help people experiencing heart trouble. Cardiac arrest is usually treated using chest compressions and defibrillation, but these techniques only prolong the life of a patient for about 30 minutes, and statistics show that nine out of 10 people don’t survive cardiac arrest.

"What we intend with Neurescue is to increase that time window so that we finally have enough time to bring these patients to these specialized hospital departments to finally bring these patients onto this existing advanced machinery where we can support their hearts, place these stents, and place these pacemakers that we know will be able to bring that heart out of that cardiac arrest situation," Neurescue founder Dr. Habib Frost told CNBC.

Frost said in the CNBC interview that the Neurescue device is intended to be used by trained medical personnel, but the company plans to eventually market the device to consumers.

New App Finds Defibrillators

There are a growing number of devices marketed for home users that are intended to help people with heart problems. Automated external defibrillators (AED) automatically diagnose some heart problems and can treat them through defibrillation. PulsePoint AED is a new smartphone app that can locate AEDs, which are commonly kept in public spaces like shopping centers. The app allows anyone to take a picture of an AED machine, pinpoint its location, and submit it to the AED registration. PulsePoint also notifies verified first responders in the area to help those in need get attention faster.

"Once it is logged into the registry, it will activate into my notifications, since I am the administrator, saying, 'Hey, there is a new AED that has been uploaded,'" EMS Coordinator Tony Simanskas in Williston, Vermont, told a local TV station.

Myocardial attack on the street, rescue team arrived in place.
LeoPatrizi / Getty Images

Devices That Protect From COVID-19 

Giving CPR to strangers with heart problems is also getting more attention during the coronavirus pandemic because of the risk of infection. The recently released ResQR device has a placement indicator, metronome, and LED light guidance to ensure proper positioning of the hands during chest compressions. It also has built-in personal protection equipment to avoid unnecessarily exposing the recipient’s chest, while also reducing the risk of potential exposure to and transmission of viruses such as COVID-19.

Once someone with a heart problem reaches the emergency room, other tech innovations are available to help. Like Caption Health’s new AI-guided heart ultrasound software, which is intended to allow more healthcare providers to better diagnose and treat patients. This is especially critical right now as heart ultrasound has just been shown to give a better indication of which COVID-19 patients have a higher risk of dying. With ICUs packed, physicians are looking for new methods to better diagnose and treat patients.

"Echocardiograms are one of the most widely used diagnostic tools in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease," Robert Ochs, deputy director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a news release. "Today’s marketing authorization enables medical professionals who may not be experts in ultrasonography, such as a registered nurse in a family care clinic or others, to use this tool."

Caption’s software is the first authorized to guide users through the process of taking ultrasound images of the heart. The software was developed using machine learning to train the software to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable image quality. This data creates an interactive AI user interface that provides guidance on how to maneuver the ultrasound probe.

The number of health gadgets powered by artificial intelligence is rapidly increasing. Expect a lot more to come in this area in the year ahead.

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