New device detects oncoming heart attacks

May 24, 2010 5:13:42 PM PDT
Jose Lima's sudden death from a heart attack at age 37 is a reminder that heart attacks can be lethal at any age. Now, the mother of a Houston toddler is testing an experimental device that will warn her before she has a heart attack.

Two-year-old Ja'Doire has an infectious laugh. She's the reason her mother is going into surgery for a new, and doctors hope, lifesaving device. It's a device that will warn her before she has another heart attack.

"I have a two-year-old that I want to be around for. I love my baby, and she's the only one that I have," said D'Wana Dominique, a patient getting the alerts device. 'So it's hard, you know, me being as young as I am. I lost my mom young; my mom died at 52 from a heart problem."

Dominique is 44 and had a heart attack three weeks ago. She survived because she was in the emergency room with her husband, who also had had a heart attack. Dominique had emergency quadruple bypass surgery.

"I never thought I had any heart problems; I never had any reason to think I had a problem," Dominique said.

She will get this heart attack warning device.

The red flashing light and buzzing could save your life. It means you are going to have a heart attack within the hour. The yellow light means get help within 24 hours.

It's a beeper the patient can carry it in their purse or on their belt; it's wireless, and it can sense a problem with the heart up to six feet away.

It may look like a pacemaker, but it won't pace or shock you're heart. It's a warning.

"If you're at high risk, and you've got a two-year-old kid, makes sense, doesn't it?" UT Cardiologist Dr. Richard Smalling said.

"The sooner we know that the patient is in trouble, the sooner we can alert the patient to come to the emergency room and seek help," cardiac surgeon Dr. Anne Dougherty said.

Surgery takes about an hour. And for Dominique, it means time with her toddler.

"It's more like a second chance with her, you know, and I thank them for giving me the opportunity to do it," Dominique said.

If you are at risk for heart attack, you can volunteer for this study. They have 300 more openings for this study, which is in 26 places. Houston is the only site right now in Texas.

The inclusion criteria are as follows:

  • Heart attack or coronary artery bypass within the past 6 months
  • Diabetes or diagnosed renal insufficiency
  • Has already had revascularization of the heart attack-related vessel (we don't want them going for stents or bypass right after they get the device)
  • Live within 60 minutes of an ER that can treat a heart attack
  • Greater than 21 years of age
  • Must have either private health insurance or Medicare (This requirement may change later)

The number to call is 713-500-6559.


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