The phrase prevention is better than cure is now being put to test as technology is providing solutions to bettering human health. In the latest of the discoveries, scientists at the John Hopkins University have developed a 3D virtual heart that can avoid invasive methods of diagnosing heart risk and unnecessary implants. The virtual-heart arrhythmia risk predictor (VARP) tested by the university has shown better results than the blood pumping measurements which provide ejection fraction scores. The research published in the journal Nature Communications, shows that of the 41 patients, those found by VARP to be at-risk were four times more likely to have an arrhythmia—irregular heartbeat—than those who tested negative. VARP was also able to predict arrhythmia occurrence four-to-five times better than ejection fraction and other existing risk predictors.
It works by using the MRI records of the patients to create a customised virtual heart which allows scientists to monitor its movement and assess if a patient requires a defibrillator—a machine attached to the heart which provides a shock in case of an irregular heart beat. Most heart patients who experience arrhythmia are fitted with defibrillators, but the procedure is invasive and can sometimes lead to infection or malfunction. While the technology is yet to be available on a large scale, once implemented it can also be used for detecting early onset of heart diseases and also can be replicated for other organs. With more researchers relying on technology, it can certainly lead the way for the next step in medical revolution