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Sentara Cardiovascular Research Institute Investigates Early Heart Attack Alert Device 

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  Implantable device designed to monitor and alert patient before heart attack occurs

NORFOLK, VA (February 3, 2011)  – More than a million people each year have heart attacks and over 400,000 people die as a result. Could getting patients to medical care faster help save lives?

Researchers at Sentara Cardiovascular Research Institute are among 35 leading heart centers in the U.S. involved in a clinical trial designed to study the safety and efficacy of an implantable heart monitor.

The purpose of the study is to determine if a device, smaller than a flip phone, can effectively monitor the heart around-the-clock for changes that might indicate it is not getting enough oxygen.

The device, called the AngelMed Guardian, is designed to reduce the time it takes patients to get to the emergency room before a heart attack occurs. The device is implanted just under the skin of the chest with wires connected to the heart.  Designed to monitor the heart for abnormal signals, it is intended to warn patients at high risk of a heart attack before a cardiac event –or even symptoms occur.

“The first few minutes of a heart attack are most dangerous, and every minute lost means more damage to the heart muscle. This study is designed to help our cardiac patients who are at high risk of having another heart attack improve their chances of survival. The hope is for them to get a warning even before symptoms occur,” says cardiologist Allen Ciuffo, M.D., principal investigator at Sentara Cardiovascular Research Institute.

Jock Wheeler, a 78-year old from Virginia Beach is a father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He had 5-way bypass surgery 21 years ago and in the last three months, had numerous stents implanted to reopen clogged arteries to his heart.

“As a retired vascular surgeon and former dean of Eastern Virginia Medical School, I’ve been involved in a lot of research studies. I’m participating because this particular study could be beneficial to my family, but certainly to other people,” says Dr. Jock Wheeler. “I knew there was a chance my device wouldn’t be turned on and that didn’t factor into my decision at all. I understand the value of research and wanted to participate anyway,” he continues.

According to the American Heart Association, one of every six deaths in the U.S. is due to heart disease, and 50 percent of heart attack deaths occur within one hour of symptoms or before the patient reaches the hospital. Other clinical studies have shown that most damage to the heart occurs within two hours of blood flow being blocked from the heart muscle, during a typical heart attack.

About ALERTS Trial.  The AngelMed for Early Recognition and Treatment of STEMI (ALERTS) is a randomized study sponsored by Angel Medical Systems. This study is currently enrolling patients at 35 sites around the U.S.  In Virginia, Sentara Cardiovascular Research Institute and Riverside Regional Medical Center are enrolling eligible patients. Sentara is among the top enrolling heart centers in the country for the study. A total of about 3,000 participants 21 years and older who are at high risk of heart attack will be enrolled for the study through 2013. For more information about the study and eligibility, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov . The study identifier is NCT00781118.

Related Links:
Sentara Heart
Sentara Cardiovascular Research

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