The Virtual Heart Predictor

Heart arrhythmias are a serious issue that can be life-threatening. Whenever you suffer from a heart arrhythmia, the only treatment for you is a defibrillator. The defibrillator works by sensing an irregular heartbeat and jolting the heart to a regular pulse when one is sensed. Although a defibrillator is necessary for heart arrhythmia treatment, it also has health risks of its own. Along with health risks, it is expensive. The problem is that everyone with an arrhythmia is receiving defibrillators even though they may not need them. Imagine being able to use a virtual heart to not only detect your risk of arrhythmias as it relates to sudden death but to assess your need for a defibrillator. You no longer have to imagine it because it is now a reality.

Nearly 4 million people suffer from arrhythmias. Arrhythmias are an irregular heartbeat, not due to heart structure problems, but due to a malfunction in electrical impulses. When the heart does not receive the right impulses, it will beat either too slow or too fast. This affects the body and can lead to death. The heart may stop altogether. Defibrillators are the primary source of treatment for arrhythmias. The problem with defibrillators is that it is sometimes placed inside of patients that do not need it. Arrhythmias are serious, but they are not always life­threatening. Defibrillators have many risks, so the worst thing you can do is place one in someone who does not need; it may hurt more than help.

Before now, there was a system called an ejection fraction that measured everyone’s need for a defibrillator on the same scale. Everybody is different so why would you be measured on the same scale? The ejection fraction only measures how much blood is being pumped out of the heart. If you are under 35%, you will get a defibrillator. The problem with that is arrhythmias is not only a result of heart function but electric impulses. John Hopkins University has now created a virtual heart that is giving the doctors the ability to predict life­threatening heart arrhythmias. VARP or virtual­ heart arrhythmia risk predictor is proving to be a great preventative treatment. It is preventing defibrillator surgery for patients who do not need it and providing it for those who have life­threatening heart arrhythmias. MRI scans are the first step of making a VARP scan. The scans are then made into a virtual model. The model shows injured tissue, non­injured tissue, and scars from the injured tissue. It also assesses the arrhythmic circuit by identifying the time at which electric pulses hit the heart. These two assessments together give doctors a better understanding of who truly has life­threatening arrhythmias.

This model is giving doctors a more accurate look at the heart and helping them understand your risk of life­threatening arrhythmias. It takes in consider scarring from heart attacks, the rate of the electric pulses, and the geometry of the heart. It is unique to each person. This new VARP, virtual­ heart arrhythmia risk predictor is much more accurate and allowing doctors to give defibrillators to those who truly need it. Leave the old way of doing things and get a cutting edge virtual model of your heart before you make any decisions about your arrhythmia treatment.