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Researchers have developed an experimental iPhone application, or app, designed to help emergency medical technicians diagnose a particularly deadly form of heart attack and send that information quickly to waiting hospital surgical teams. The inexpensive app can greatly improve a patient’s odds of survival.

The iPhone app is specially designed to identify patients suffering from a dangerous type of heart attack known as STEMI, or ST-elevation myocardial infarction.

In STEMI, blood flow to the heart is blocked by a clot in a coronary artery.  Unlike many types of heart attacks, STEMIs show up very clearly on an electrocardiogram, or ECG, a diagnostic test that measures the heart’s electrical activity.  Small adhesive wire leads are placed on the chest around the heart.  They feed signals to the ECG, which prints a paper tracing of a dozen waves showing cardiac activity.

With the experimental iPhone app, emergency medical technicians responding to a call can do an ECG, snap an image of the tracing with the mobile phone camera and transmit it clearly at high speed over the cell network.

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