A British hospital will be the first in the world to trial a revolutionary cardiac vest that can alert doctors if a patient is having heart attack.
Sufferers could be diagnosed up to 12 hours earlier than usual if trials of the new Heartscape device, which contains 80 sensors attached to a patient's chest and back, are successful.
The vest that will be introduced in Bradford Royal Infirmary, translate electrical signals from the heart to give doctors an instant 360 degree, three-dimensional colour view of the organ. This is a more accurate picture than any machine can provide.
The pictures give doctors detailed information within minutes about whether a patient is suffering an attack and where within the heart the problem is situated.
Conventional electrocardiograph (ECG) technology has been available for 60 years but its limitations mean patients can face delays of up 12 hours for blood test results, during which continuing damage may be done.
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, whose infirmary treats 300 patients a year suffering major attacks and 1,200 with minor ones, said it had been keen to obtain the vest after large-scale trials of an earlier version in the US showed it could immediately diagnose more life-threatening heart attacks than conventional two-dimensional equipment.
Dr James Dunbar, consultant physician at Bradford Royal Infirmary, said the vest would enable speedier treatment for heart attack patients but could also detect signs of heart disease.
"Current conventional machines are insensitive for diagnosis of heart disease. This new Heartscape vest will help us gain an instant in-depth 3D iew, making it easier to interpret whether a patient is having a heart attack, enabling treatment to start earlier and hopefully lead to improved patient outcomes," the Daily Mail quoted Dunbar as saying.
The vest will be available to high risk patients in the hospital's A 'n' E and edical admissions units from March. The trust hopes to widen the vest trial throughout the hospital in 2013.
"If the Heartscape proves to be the success we all believe it can be, this could have major positive impact for patients across the NHS, particularly when trying to rapidly diagnose or exclude coronary heart disease in the A 'n' E department," said Paul Knee, managing director of vest manufacturer Verathon Medical UK Ltd.