I had just given my last university exam of the semester when my mother called to tell me that my father had had a massive heart attack along with a brain stroke. Fortunately, he was admitted to a hospital and received treatment on time.
When he had the attack, people around him had no clue what was happening to him. It took about two hours to diagnose what he had suffered.
Being graced with doctors in our locality, and having access to services like ambulances and professional medical help, my father was one of the few who pulled through the attack alive. Thinking about how many would have suffered otherwise, was an inconceivable thought.
But now researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, have developed an affordable sensory device which can not only predict a heart attack but also foretell if a person is likely to have a heart attack in future.
Students Debasmita Mondal and Sourabh Agrawal guided by Soumyo Mukherji, Professor in Biosciences and Bioengineering in IIT Bombay, received the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Award 2018 in March for building the device.
How does it do it? Well, when a Myocardial Infarction (the fancy name for heart attack) occurs, the body releases two particular set of enzymes– myoglobin and myeloperoxidase, into the blood. These are called biomarkers of a heart attack.
The device analyses this set of enzymes to determine whether or not a person is at risk of a heart attack.
Prof Soumyo Mukherji told the Indian Express, “While myoglobin can detect an oncoming heart attack at a very early stage, it is the measurement of myeloperoxidase that has been pathbreaking for us.”
Heart attacks are commonly diagnosed with the help of Electrocardiogram (ECG) which reads the electric signals of the muscles to know the damage caused to the heart muscles. This takes up valuable time, and according to researchers, this sensor could save that precious time.
The device could eliminate the use of ECG or even the assistance of a medical professional to determine a heart attack.
The device has two parts— an electronic reader and a sensory device. It requires that a drop of blood is placed on the sensor, after which the two biomarkers are coagulated to the sensor, hindering the flow of the current. This impedance is then measured across various frequencies.
This sensor is connected to a smartphone via a headphone jack that gives the reading. The pocket-friendly device is powered by the smartphone and takes about 10-15 mins to display the results.
The device currently costs Rs 5,500, but researchers feel that when the device is produced at a commercial scale, it could come down drastically to Rs 1,500.
With the potential to save millions of lives, the device could be what the medical industry needs and people need. Much appreciation for the team for developing a life-saving device.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)