Wearable troponin-I sensor aids in heart attack diagnosis

RCE Technologies

A bracelet-like device that measures levels of troponin-I in the blood could provide a more efficient way of detecting a heart attack, according to US researchers.

The wearable developed by RCE Technologies was put through its paces in a real-world study presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) annual meeting, which found that it was able to predict levels of the biomarker and obstructed arteries with 90% accuracy within five minutes.

Troponin-I is already a widely-used diagnostic for acute myocardial infarction (MI), currently detected in blood samples taken from a patient, and the hope is that the wearable device could shorten the time to detection and allow treatment to start sooner – potentially preserving heart muscle affected by the heart attack.

“This is an exciting opportunity because it increases our capability for early diagnosis of heart attacks in both community settings and in acute care environments,” said lead study author Partho Sengupta, of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in the US, who is an advisor to RCE.

Troponin-I testing is used when a patient presents with chest pains that suggest a heart attack, but there is no definitive evidence from an electrocardiogram.

The time it takes to draws blood, send the sample to a lab, and get the results back – particularly during busy times at a hospital – can delay treatment with clot-busting drugs that could restore blood flow to areas of the heart affected by an MI more quickly.

“Time is muscle,” said RCE’s chief executive and founder, Atandra Burman. “With this wrist-worn sensor, we can provide real-time monitoring of heart muscle injury that can empower clinicians in a much needed timely intervention in patients with an impending heart attack.”

The wrist-worn sensor uses infrared light to detect the presence of troponin-I in the blood through the skin, sending a reading via Bluetooth to a cloud-based system, where a machine learning algorithm is used to predict the level of the biomarker.

In the 239-subject study reported at ACC, patients wore the device and also had blood drawn to test for troponin-I levels, on top of an ECG and either an echocardiogram or coronary angiogram to image blood flow through the heart, and found the wearable’s results correlated well with clinical evidence of a heart attack.

People with abnormal troponin levels as measured by the device were about four times as likely to have an obstructed artery compared to people with a negative result using the sensor, said Sengupta.

“With this level of accuracy, if you use this device and it comes out positive, you’re fairly sure this patient can be admitted for fast tracking diagnostic tests, treatment, and intervention,” he added.

Further studies on the device are needed,, however, including tests to see if differences in skin tone, wrist size, skin health or other factors may affect the results.

RCE is planning to study whether continuous measurements of troponin-I using the wearable, rather than a one-off test to detect whether a threshold has been reached, could have additional clinical utility. The company is also exploring use of the technology to detect other biomarkers.