Imaging technology can spot heart problems at a glance

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, have developed a monitoring device that they say will improve detection and prevention of cardiovascular issues, according to a report in the journal Nature.

The device monitors blood flow at multiple arterial points without making contact with the skin, which makes it ideal for assessing burns patients or those with highly contagious diseases.

Robert Amelard, the study’s lead author, said: ‘Traditional systems in wide use now take one blood pulse reading at one spot on the body. This device acts like many virtual sensors that measure blood-flow behaviour on various parts of the body.

‘The device relays measurements from all of these pulse points to a computer for continuous monitoring. By way of comparison, think of measuring the traffic flow across an entire city rather than through one intersection.’

The advantage of the new technique over traditional monitoring is that it provides a more complete picture of what’s happening in the body.

Professor Alexander Wong, the study’s co-author, said: ‘Since the device can also scan multiple patients individually at once and from a distance, consider the potential in mass emergency scenarios or long-term care homes.

‘This technology provides for a more predictive approach to monitor vitals and the potential for its use is extensive, such as indicating arterial blockages that might otherwise go undetected, or warning older adults who risk falling as a result of getting dizzy when they stand.’