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article imageDevice warns patients of heart attack hours before it happens

By Mike White     Aug 28, 2013 in Science
A new device which can warn a patient of a potential heart attack hours ahead of time, possibly saving a life, is being tested in Arizona. reports that the device is smaller than a pack of cards.
Dr. Andrew Kaplan of Banner Heart Hospital said the device, the Fortify VR, “will actually vibrate in the chest.” The Fortify VR, which is a defibrillator implanted in a patient’s chest, does more than shock a heart during an irregular heartbeat, like a traditional device. Dr. Kaplan explained that a patient with an irregular blood flow will “feel the vibration and they automatically know that is a sign to go to the hospital.”
Dr. Kaplan explained the device is inserted under a patient’s skin. The vibration from the Fortify VR is an alarm. It can make such a vibration hours before a person would have a heart attack without treatment.
One man who is involved in the study, Joe Coia, 60, was a heart attack victim several months ago, according to After surviving, doctors told him he would be an excellent candidate for the testing being done on the Fortify VR.
He had the heart attack on a Friday afternoon when he “was hot. My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest.” His wife rushed him to the hospital, and he survived.
A receiver near the participant’s bed and the defibrillator communicate wirelessly during testing. The Fortify VR uploads information and sends it to the receiver, which sends it to the hospital. The theory behind the device is doctors will know a patient is about to have a heart attack before he even arrives at the hospital, giving them more time to plan treatment.
Coia said having the defibrillator is like having a team of doctors with him everywhere he goes, 24 hours a day.
Those doing the testing at Banner Heart Hospital say the tests have been very successful. Currently the device is only being tested in heart attack victims. There are plans to offer it to those prone to heart disease in the future.
According to, more than one million Americans have a heart attack annually. Those who have a heart attack have permanent damage to their heart muscle. A heart attack is also called a myocardial infarction, with the infarction being the lack of blood supply causing the death of tissue, and the “myo,” meaning muscle.
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