Several lives were saved in the US in 2005 from the fatal arrhythmias through devices which were surgically implanted in them. As many as 1,70,000 people in North America received this treatment. Quite a few of the patients also found this to be uncomfortable, unnecessary, and even dangerous. A noninvasive test has been developed recently to find out which of the patients are likely to benefit from the implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD).
The test was found to be accurate by a study which was sponsored by the NIH with the active participation of researchers belonging to the Columbia University Medical Center. The American College of Cardiology's journal has reported the findings of the study. The heart's electrical activity is measured by the Microvolt T-wave Alternans (MTWA) test, when even a minor physical exercise is being performed by the patient. Threatening rhythm disturbances which the traditional electrocardiogram (ECG) is incapable of detecting can easily be identified by the MTWA test.
This will contribute towards identifying those people who belong to the high-risk category even though they may not yet have suffered from a cardiac arrest. A pulse of electrical current will be delivered through the device if an arrhythmia were to occur in a patient. The study was conducted on 549 patients over a period of two years. As the ICD implantations cost as much as $50,000, the MTWA test will contribute towards scaling down healthcare expenses. The test is estimated at only $400.