Spotting Off-Beat Heart Rhythms

Heart arrhythmias diagnosed with new ultrasound technology

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Your heart is supposed to have a fairly steady rhythm. But when it starts to go off beat, you may be in trouble. In fact, you could be facing death. Now, there is a new way for doctors to spot this heart problem.

Researchers have made a new tool that can diagnose heart arrhythmias - when the heart beats too fast or too slow. This new tool is faster and more accurate than the tools that are currently used.

"Researchers made a new way to spot dangerous heart rhythms."

This new technology - called Electromechanical Wave Imaging (EWI) - is an important step forward, says Elisa Konofagou, research leader and associate professor at Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

EWI uses ultrasound - a type of sound waves - to read the pulses of a person's heart. Because ultrasound is cheap, safe, and easy to carry around, Konofagou believes that it may one day be possible for doctors to keep an ultrasound scanner in their pocket.

With EWI, doctors can pinpoint what part of the heart is having problems without putting the patient through too much trouble. This lets doctors know which part of the heart they need to treat.

EWI can also easily be placed in the ultrasound scanners that are already in hospitals.

The Study

  • EWI is the first non-invasive method for looking at the electrical activity of the heart
  • The EWI method allowed researchers to take images of the heart five times faster than the current standard method
  • EWI allowed researchers to look at the contractions of each specific chamber of the heart, giving them a more detailed picture of a patient's heart
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Review Date: 
May 10, 2011
Last Updated:
May 12, 2011