Over a million people in Spain suffer from atrial fibrillation, the most common type of arrhythmia in the world, and it is estimated that over 40 million people suffer from it globally. Until now, techniques to detect these pathologies either did not allow identifying the most appropriate treatment or required limited resources. A new study by the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) opens up a new way to streamline this type of diagnosis.
Techniques to detect arrhythmias were not helpful in identifying appropriate treatments or were too resource intensive
For nearly a hundred years, the standard electrocardiogram (ECG) has been the main way to detect a cardiac arrhythmia in a patient, but it is rarely used to identify treatments. The development of the so-called Electrocardiographic Imaging (ECGi) makes it possible to map cardiac activity without the need for surgery or catheters, which is why it was dubbed the “ECG of the 21st century”. However, it has a significant disadvantage: it requires the patient to have a combined axial tomography (CT) and iECG, which limits its use only to high complexity patients and in referral centers around the world.
The UPV team, in collaboration with the company Corify Care, patented the way to make the ECGi a routine clinical tool. In his work, published in the magazine Journal of Electrocardiology, evaluated the possibilities of using this technique without CT or MRI to detect atrial fibrillation. Its proposal makes it possible to locate the heart of patients and quickly obtain maps of electrical activity.
Researchers from the COR-ITACA Institute/UPV group
The researchers analyzed the surface signs of 25 patients with this pathology and compared the effect of using ECGi with imaging techniques and their ECGI proposal with an estimated cardiac geometry based on the anatomical characteristics of the patient’s trunk. The results validate the non-imaging ECG as a robust technique for the non-invasive assessment of atrial fibrillation.
Study demonstrates non-imaging ECG as a valid technique for detecting atrial fibrillation
This method can provide detailed information about the electrical activity of the heart much more completely than conventional ECGs. “This will help to detect and diagnose cardiac arrhythmias more accurately and plan the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias in the operating room more efficiently, as they provide accurate information about the location and extent of arrhythmias”, highlights María Guillem, researcher of the Instituto COR group -ITACA (UPV).
In addition to reducing patients’ exposure to ionizing radiation, such as computed tomography scans to obtain their cardiac geometry, this technique also reduces the time and costs of the technology, “making it more universal and facilitating its introduction into clinical practice”, points out Rubén Molero, also a researcher in the COR-ITACA Institute group.
This technology, patented before its publication, is in the development phase and is starting its commercial phases with the Spin-off Corify Care, winner of the 2020 Best European Innovation Award by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
This will help detect and diagnose cardiac arrhythmias more accurately.
As Andreu Climent, researcher of the study and CEO of the company, indicates, “the ability to obtain maps of the electrical activity of the heart in a few minutes and safely allows progress, both in atrial fibrillation and in many other arrhythmias, to increase the precision of invasive procedures .
Molero, R. et al. Robustness of non-image electrocardiographic imaging against uncertainty in atrial morphology and location. J Electrocardiol (2023).