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Indiana doctor helping test heart attack warning device

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Nathan Richardson Jr. considers himself lucky after suffering a minor heart attack in July.

“I basically dodged a bullet,” Richardson said. “No muscle damage, so I was very fortunate, we caught it early.”

But as someone who is now considered to be at high risk for another heart attack, Richardson decided to sign up for an FDA trial in Bloomington for an implanted device that could actually warn him earlier.

“This device, literally within seconds or minutes, can detect a lack of blood flow to the heart to alert the patient of a heart attack,” said Dr. John Strobel, Cardiac Electrophysiologist for Premier Healthcare.

The device is about the size of a pacemaker, and is implanted in a similar position in the chest. Patients with the implant also carry a receiver, which can alert them to potential emergencies or lesser warnings, which may require a doctor visit. The receiver beeps in different ways for each warning, and the implanted device also vibrates inside the chest, so that a patient immediately knows something is wrong.

“If you had your cell phone on vibrate, and you had it in your shirt pocket, that’s what it would feel like,” said Richardson, who has felt the vibration during testing.

Dr. Strobel said the Guardian device has already lived up to its name during trials in other states, even in cases where traditional tests showed no indication of a heart attack.

“The device was alerting and buzzing,” Strobel said. “They did an Angiogram, you know, took pictures of the heart arteries and found severe blockages and treated them.”

Though Richardson’s hasn’t gone off outside of testing, he said it’s still doing its job.

“I have a better peace of mind because after I’d had my heart attack, there were periods where I was getting things that I felt were going on inside my chest. It probably was nothing, but I didn’t know that,” Richardson said. “I feel that this is going to give me the opportunity where if I do have a problem, it’s going to tell me about it.”

According to Dr. Strobel, possible complications from the Guardian are similar to those associated with pacemaker implants.

Strobel said Premier Healthcare is still looking for additional participants for the ongoing FDA trial.

More information is available online.