Chest Pain? Reassurance is Just a Phone Call Away

The call-center medical staff use the data sent via the Telemarker to diagnose and monitor subscribers’ healthMore than 6 million Americans visit the emergency room each year complaining of chest pain, and approximately 60% of those are admitted for continued …

The call-center medical staff use the data sent via the Telemarker to diagnose and monitor subscribers’ healthMore than 6 million Americans visit the emergency room each year complaining of chest pain, and approximately 60% of those are admitted for continued tests, monitoring and observation. But according to statistics, about 80% of those who are admitted for further evaluation do not suffer from myocardial infarction — in other words, their fears that they are having a heart attack are unfounded.

Now, with a simple blood test at home manufactured by Israeli firm SHL Telemedicine, a new device called the Telemarker, a patient will soon be able to accurately determine whether the discomfort they are feeling is really a heart attack or not without a trip to the emergency room. The new device automatically pricks the patient’s skin for a blood sample, and carries out a test for two proteins – myoglobin and troponin. These proteins, normally found inside cells, are released into the blood when cells cease functioning, as in the case of a heart attack.

After 20 minutes, the device photographs the results and broadcasts them via modem to a monitoring center maintained by SHL, a physician?s office or hospital, where they can be analyzed in real time. This data, combined with the information provided by existing SHL devices, can offer the medical team at the center the three main parameters required for the diagnosis of a heart attack: a clinical picture, an ECG reading and a blood test for cardiac markers.

SHL Telemedicine, which develops a number of remote monitoring solutions for medical applications, announced the launching of the product recently in its home market in Israel. The product has already been approved in Europe and is awaiting approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That approval is expected within the year.

Erez Alroy, Co-President of SHL Telemedicine says that the TeleMarker allows the subscribers “to benefit from technological advantages that assist in saving lives and improve peace of mind.”

The TeleMarker, he notes, can help end users get “a more focused emergency treatment” in times when they most need it, when other tools may fail to supply clear indications as to their situation.

According to SHL, research has shown that the preliminary diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) is based on the presence of two out of three parameters: the suggestive description of symptoms, typical ECG changes and elevations of cardiac markers.

The TeleMarker, for the first time, enables a monitor center to receive those three parameters directly from the subscriber’s home, and either rule out the possibility, or signal the patient that urgent care is needed.

The product will not only be attractive to users, but to health care institutions as well. Use of the device will lower the number of previously unavoidable false hospitalizations, leading to a higher quality of life for patients, and ease a major financial burden on health care authorities, he said.

According to SHL Telemedicine chief medical manager Prof. Arie Roth, the TeleMarker represents a true breakthrough. “It bridges the gap between our own capabilities and what the hospital emergency room can offer. In many cases of suspected acute myocardial infarction the TeleMarker is the perfect tool to rule in or to rule out this possibility even in cases where other medical indicators, such as ECG, fail to give certain results.”

SHL TeleMedicine develops and markets a range of personal telemedicine systems and provides medical call-center services to subscribers. Personal telemedicine is the transmission of medical data by an individual, from a remote location to a medical call center via standard telephone networks. With the help of computer systems, call-center medical staff use this data to diagnose and monitor subscribers’ health, following proprietary guidance protocols, and to respond quickly and effectively to their needs.

Other SHL -brand heart care devices that have all been cleared for marketing by the FDA, is a hand-held ECG transmitter capable of transmitting a full ECG reading to a monitor center. Another product enables hands-free communication between the patient and a medical call center staff, and functions in conjunction with other SHL brand products.

The TeleBreather is a pulmonary data transmitter, the TelePress a blood pressure reader/transmitter, and the TeleWeight monitors congestive heart failure.

Another product, the Watchman, is an emergency communication system built into a Swiss-made wristwatch enables two-way communication between the Monitor Center and the subscribers, wherever they are.