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Scientist invents device for easy heart check-up


Jaimon Joseph,CNN-IBN
Aug 29, 2012 at 04:45pm IST

New Delhi: India is the global capital for heart disease. More than six crore Indians are already victims, and the number is rising every year.

The problem with a heart attack is, we don't know when the next one will hit. Getting yourself checked can be expensive and not all clinics are equipped to do it. Now there's a device that lets you get your heart checked. And it fits into the palm of your hand.

Ten minutes is all you will need.

Technicians at your local clinic will wire you up, with leads on your limbs and chest. Your body's electrical signals will flow first into a box called HeartTrace and then, into a computer. And voila, your electro-cardiogram or ECG will be ready in seconds.

It's as quick and hassle-free as a simple blood test.

Dr Ravi Mehrotra, Chief Scientist at CSIR-NPL (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Physical Laboratory), says, "It is a full 12 lead device. It measures simultaneously all the 12 signals that a doctor needs. The software saves patient information and the final ECG. Records can be emailed and shared with experts."

Conventional ECG machines cost between Rs one to three lakh.

Less than four thousand devices sell in India every year. But HeartTrace is priced so low, even village clinics should be able to buy one.

Dr Mehrotra says, "The price should be around Rs 10-15,000. That's about the price of a medium level phone."

The reason it is so cheap, is technology. HeartTrace has no moving parts inside - just a printed circuit board. But burned into those circuits, is special software Dr Mehrotra wrote himself.

What looks so deceptively simple, took almost five to 10 years to make. And while it was Dr Mehrotra's brainchild, at least thirty of his students at CSIR-NPL collaborated on the project. The team bagged a gold medal from the Department of Science and Technology and Lockheed Martin in India.

For the past few months, HeartTrace is being tested at leading hospitals around Delhi. Dr Mehrotra has sought permission from CSIR to form a company to commercially manufacture these devices.

You'll soon see them at a local doctor near you, even if he be in the remotest of villages.

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