Johns Hopkins undergraduate students have invented a system to shock a dangerously irregular heart back into normal rhythm more safely and effectively.
The two-component system is designed both to expand a doctor's options in routing electric current through the heart and to improve the application of pressure to the patient's body to help treatment succeed.
This system, called the PrestoPatch, won first place in the undergraduate division of the 2013 national Collegiate Inventors Competition. Team members said they will use their $12,500 prize money to help launch a company and move their invention closer to clinical use.
"Our system is simple," said team member Sandya Subramanian of Grand Rapids, Mich. "That means clinicians are more likely to use it." She was one of the eight Johns Hopkins biomedical engineering undergraduates who worked on the PrestoPatch project beginning in the spring of 2012.
The system is designed to better deliver electric shocks to patients experiencing arrhythmia, an erratic heartbeat that can be fatal. About 14 million people in the United States alone have been diagnosed with some form of arrhythmia, which can include a heartbeat that is too fast, too slow, too early or out of synch.
When the condition becomes life-threatening, medical teams may have only three to five minutes to jolt the heart back to normal rhythm. The doctor first must choose two of three locations for electrode patches: on the front, side or back of the patient. Electric current is then shot between the two electrodes, passing through the heart.
If the first shock doesn't work, present-day patches cannot be moved to a new position that might yield better results.
"When a shock fails, a physician's options for what to do next are very limited," said team leader Piyush Poddar of Plainsboro, N.J. "The usual next step is to increase the energy of the shock, that is, if it's not already maxed
|Contact: Phil Sneiderman|
Johns Hopkins University