New heart research could help save lives

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - New research could prevent tragedies and help change the future of heart care across the United States.  The machine is called an Ultrasound Cardiac Output Monitor that measures the strength the heart in real time.

There's nothing like this device out there and researchers say it's a huge advancement in cardiac care.

"For the first time it's completely non-invasive.  so we can do it on anybody, anywhere.," said research specialist with Barnes-Jewish Hospital Tom Ahrens.

Ahrens is partnering with Southeast Missouri Hospital to research a new $30,000 machine.  Athletes at Southeast Missouri State get their heart strength tested.

"We just take a probe about the size of your finger.  We put it right above bone in your neck and angle the beam toward the aortic valve and usually takes about 10 to 15 seconds," said Ahrens.

With the recent death of a New Madrid High School football player at practice, the research becomes more valuable.

"We're trying to see, can we detect these athlete's early," said Ahrens.

Ahrens said the immediate feeback allows doctors to better treat not only athletes but anyone.

"As this technology advances, it's going to allow physicians to be much more precise in their treatments.  It'll allow nurses at the bedside to know exactly if their medicine is working," said Ahrens.

Ahrens said it can show how badly a heart has been damaged immediately after a heart attack.

"The test that we use now we could have done in the 19th century and that's why this is such a major advancement," said Ahrens.

"Look what we're going to have available to the citizens of Southeast Missouri, let alone the students at the university.  We're on the cutting edge of what's going on in heath care in this regard," said Southeast Missouri Chief Nursing Officer Karen Hendrickson

While research is still in the beginning stages, Ahrens has high hopes for cardiac care in the future.

"We look to see this will become normal practice in the not too distant future," said Ahrens.

Because research is still being done, this test isn't readily available to the general public yet.

©2009 KFVS All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.