Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) have developed a device that would help in detecting heart attacks with the help of smartphones. The device can detect cardiac biomarkers which is a chemical released during a heart attack, using a tiny sensor, which can be read with a smartphone.
Debasmita Mondal and Sourabh Agrawal had conceptualised the idea under the guidance of Professor Soumyo Mukherji and they recently won the 2018 Gandhian Young Technological Innovation award.
Though, these devices are promising but are sensitive enough to measure small changes in the heartbeat and thus testing for biomarker proteins like myoglobin and myeloperoxidase in patient’s blood is thought to be the more reliable.
Myoglobin is an iron-containing protein which is released into the bloodstream soon after the sudden decrease or blockage of blood flow to the heart. A healthy person has about 25-72 ng/mL of myoglobin in blood. However, it could go up 4-8 times (to 200 ng/ml), and sometimes as high as 100 times (to 900 ng/ml), within an hour of myocardial infarction, indicating a heart attack.
Myeloperoxidase is an enzyme which is produced in our white blood cells and released when blood vessels are injured. It is recognised as an indicator of an acute coronary syndrome (ACS) which is a condition where there is decreased blood flow to the heart. Higher levels of this enzyme indicate a higher risk of cardiac diseases.
“A quick measurement of the myeloperoxidase levels in a person’s blood would provide them with ample time for taking precautionary steps regarding their lifestyle, medications, etc. to prevent suffering from myocardial infarction in future. Chances of having a heart attack can be predicted almost 3 to 6 months in advance. Increased levels of myoglobin indicate the onset of a heart attack and early diagnosis would help in contacting a professional for the proper course of treatment," ResearchMatters.in quoted Debasmita Mondal, as saying.
How the device works
The device contains a filter paper sensor which is coated with a conducting polymer called polyaniline. Antibodies are embedded on its surface which can bind to myoglobin and myeloperoxidase. When the blood of a patient who has suffered a heart attack meets the sensor, these proteins bind to the sensor and hinder the flow of current through the sensor, and the impedance is measured across different frequencies of the input voltage.
The sensor is connected to a module in the smartphone through the audio jack which stores the measured impedance data on the phone. The device is powered by the phone. It sends the impedance data as a function of frequency from the sensor to the smartphone in the audio range of 10Hz to 10kHz. Then the results are displayed on the smartphone screen. Only the sensor cartridge needs to be changed after every use. The device can detect two cardiac biomarkers within a time of twenty minutes. It can also diagnose cardiac disease in an early stage.
How much the device costs
At present the device costs about Rs 5500 at the research level but the researchers hope that when the device is produced at a commercial scale, the cost could come down to just Rs 1500. The device can also be disposed of easily as it is biodegradable and won’t harm the environment.