Interpreting electronic signals in body tissue to help diagnose heart attack

Accounting for 5% of all emergency visits worldwide, heart disease is a major global health issue. However, studies show that between 2% and 8% of patients are inappropriately discharged with an undiagnosed heart attack.

But a new device developed by a University of Leeds spin-out company, Creavo Medical Technologies Ltd, could change that.

Detecting heart disease in minutes

Currently when a patient goes to hospital with chest pains they are presumed to have suffered a heart attack until proven otherwise. Doctors rely on a series of ‘rule in’ tests which can take a while to show the patient is having a heart attack, and it’s widely accepted that the longer a patient waits for treatment following the onset of chest pain, the worse their outcome can be.

Research led by Professor Ben Varcoe, Chair of Quantum Information Science at Leeds, has resulted in a new and patented methodology to detect and record the magnetic physiological indicators associated with electrical signals present in certain body tissues. This can help with the diagnosis of a range of potentially life threatening medical conditions, including heart attacks.

Using this research, the team at Creavo Medical Technologies Ltd have developed a portable, battery operated device that can be used in both routine and acute hospital settings, even emergency triage. Where the portable magnetometer comes into its own is that it can be used to immediately rule out cardiac-related conditions in a simple five-minute test. Not only is this test non-invasive, but it is also passive so it can be used safely in a wide range of patient groups.

Benefits and impact

The potential market for this technology is huge; the company conservatively estimate the total available market in Europe for such a device would be around £700m, and globally in excess of £2bn. With the potential to diagnose other diseases these figures could grow exponentially.