Newport News — An implantable device could alert patients of an impending heart attack.

Riverside Regional Medical Center will participate in a new study that will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the AngelMed Guardian implantable cardiac monitor and alert system.

The device is intended to improve heart attack survival rates by reducing the amount of time it takes patients to get to the emergency room during a heart attack, Riverside said. Riverside is among the first medical facilities to participate in the clinical trial.

A heart attack is typically the result of a blood clot closing one of three major coronary arteries. That causes a change in the heart signal, which the AngelMed system aims to detect. Then it alerts patients to seek medical attention.

Allan L. Murphy, MD"If the Guardian system proves to be effective in early detection and warning of potentially life-threatening heart conditions, it might help save lives. Also, when no warning signal is received, it could be reassuring to patients that their symptoms are not coming from their heart and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and testing," said Dr. Allan Murphy, who's leading the study at Riverside.

One of every five deaths in the U.S. is attributable to coronary heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.

About half of heart-attack fatalities occur within an hour of symptom onset and before the patient reaches the hospital.

"Most of the damage to the heart occurs during the first two hours after coronary occlusion," AngelMed's Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Harwood said in a news release. "We've designed the device to warn patients of this and other cardiac events hours — perhaps days — before they occur."

The system involves an internal implantable device about the size of a standard pacemaker with a lead into the heart, an external telemetry device and a programmer that aids physicians in evaluating heart signals.

For more information, contact Virginia Oehmann at 594-4508 or


Published: July 2, 2009