A standard ECG produces a series of line graphs that healthcare professionals can “read” to diagnose irregular heart rhythms. In some cases, however, this data is not detailed enough to document the actual sequence of events involved in an abnormal heartbeat, especially when the problem is intermittent. This detail is important when planning treatments such as ablation procedures that target specific locations in the heart tissue.
Medtronic has created a smart vest that is designed to provide enormous amounts of information about a patient’s beating heart. The three-part garment incorporates 252 individual electrodes made of silver and silver chloride. The fabric is a combination of cotton and spandex, to provide a flexible and stretchable material. Two connectors accept data plugs that convey the data signals to a system that records and analyzes the information. One particularly interesting feature is that the vest data can be combined with CT scan information to provide 3D imaging of the heart signals as it beats.
The vest is only available for clinical use by healthcare professionals, and it is also a single-use device which means that it will likely be reserved for more demanding cases. However, the system just received FDA clearance, which could lead to better diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes for patients with complex heart rhythm conditions.