New Wrist Sensor Can Help Save Critical Time for Heart Attack Patients

A new device called the Tropsensor is currently undergoing trials at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where cardiologists and emergency physicians are testing its ability to quickly and accurately detect heart valve blockages in patients who have suffered a cardiac arrest. The device works by detecting troponin levels, a protein found in the heart muscle that appears in the bloodstream when an artery has been blocked, signifying a heart attack. The Tropsensor can detect these levels within 3-5 minutes of being fitted on the patient’s wrist, allowing medical staff to treat this serious condition as quickly as possible.

Currently, detecting heart valve blockages involves either an electrocardiogram (ECG), which can lack accuracy for those who have had a cardiac arrest, or a troponin blood test, which can be time-consuming as patients wait for pathology results. By quickly identifying any dangerous blockages, the Tropsensor has the potential to significantly improve outcomes for patients who have unrecognized heart attacks.

In addition to patients who have suffered a cardiac arrest, the Tropsensor can also be used on patients who present to hospital with chest pain to identify any dangerous blockages. Identifying these blockages quickly can make a life-saving difference, as some patients who are resuscitated and taken to hospital have also suffered a heart attack due to a blocked artery.

The Tropsensor study will involve 30 patients testing the wrist device, and their outcomes will be studied over time. Dr. Graham Nichol, an emergency physician at the University of Washington School of Medicine and director of Harborview’s Center for Prehospital Emergency Care, who is supervising the trial, expects to have the results of the trial out next year. He believes that early recognition of acute coronary occlusion could allow medical staff to rapidly restore blood flow to the heart, which improves the short- and long-term outcomes for patients who have unrecognized heart attacks.