Israeli doctors will now be able to make quick emergency room diagnoses about whether patients suffering from chest pains are indeed experiencing cardiac events, thanks to new software for echocardiogram (echo) machines developed by the General Electric Co.'s branch in Israel.
When patients arrive in the emergency room complaining of symptoms that could be a heart attack or similar cardiac event, they are attached to an echo heart machine to check them. The machines with the new software will now, in only minutes, be able to positively ascertain whether or not the patient is suffering from a cardiac event that requires hospitalization, or if the chest pains are a false alarm pointing to another problem.
Dr. Bashir Karkabi, a cardiologist and emergency room director at the Carmel Medical Center in Haifa, explained the advantages of this newer echo machine: "A patient with chest pains who arrives at the emergency room today must face a thorough and comprehensive examination to rule out a heart attack or other dangerous heart episode. The investigation includes an echocardiogram, blood tests and supervision for at least six hours in the emergency room."
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According to Karkabi, when there is a high suspicion of heart disease, the patient is then sent for further tests such as an exertion test, heart mapping and even catheterization. The new program provides results sooner and prevents both excess tests and unnecessary hospitilizations.
The updated machine will first be used in 10 hospitals in Israel within the framework of an international heart research project. Among the participating hospitals are the Carmel Medical Center in Haifa, Hadassah Medical Center Mount Scopus and Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Beilinson Medical Center in Petach Tikvah, Assaf Harofeh Medical Center near Rishon Letzion, Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot and Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
"The research hopes to solve time and clarity issues," said Echo Department Director at the Carmel Medical Center Dr. Avinoam Shiran. "The new program, combined with the echo, allows for early identification of myocardial contraction disorders as an expression of heart disease."
To date, 100 patients have been tested with the echo and the new program. Researchers are awaiting more data from Israel and abroad in order make additional conclusions about the machine's applicability. In Israel, it has been noted that between 5 and 8 percent of all the patients in emergency rooms are there with chest pain complaints.
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