Small Blood Monitoring Implant Sends Information To User’s Smartphone Before a Heart Attack

        Technology in today’s day and age is reaching the point where computers and information systems possess the ability to save numerous lives. We’ve seen hospitals automate their records under a main database, Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) scans find tumors and bone trauma, and pacemakers to control irregular heart rhythms. Now, this miniscule, 14 millimeter device possesses the ability to measure indicators, like proteins such as troponin in the body, leading to the early detection of a heart attack. Early detection allows for early EMS or hospital care.

        The discovery of this technology at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland is monumental, yet it is only the beginning of a possible system that could be used by all humans in the near future. In addition to detecting heart attack signals, the chip can also analyze levels of glucose, lactate, and ATP, which can be used for other types of patients like diabetics. Upon implantation into the body, a battery patch attached to the skin charges the device by induction. The sensors in the device contain enzymes which react to specific chemicals in the blood in order to signal a potential problem. In the case of a heart attack, it is typical for the smooth muscle protein, troponin, to enter the blood a few hours before. Notification of a serious life-threatening problem via Bluetooth allows a person to discover the problem simply by picking up the cell phone alert.

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        Of course, this live-saving technology has not been perfected; there are some shortcomings to the device and its functions. For example, the device has a limited number of sensors, meaning it only can detect a couple health-related issues at the moment. On the bright side, this technology is just becoming a reality, and further research can lead to this device detecting many more bodily issues. In addition, the implanted device is only limited to the lifetime of the enzymes. After about a month or two, the enzymes in the device will not be able to perform their function; a major problem when the device needs to continuously monitor patients. A method to de-implant the device and re-implant for continued care is currently being researched thanks to a 100 million dollar research fund from Blackberry.

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        Another looming question on the technology is whether the application and insertion into the body is a patient right. Moreover, is it okay for humans to implant computer chips into their bodies capable of early diagnosis of a problem? There are those who fear the advancement of technology and the possibility of having a device such as this in the body. Personally, I see this discovery as a revolutionary method in preventing early death due to heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. I say if there’s a way of preventing at least half of the approximate 600,000 deaths a year, then the blood monitoring implant will be an amazing device that will hopefully be making an appearance in the very near future.

For more information, the article, along with a video featuring the EPFL scientists, can be found here.

http://www.extremetech.com/computing/151134-worlds-smallest-blood-monitoring-implant-talks-to-a-smartphone-but-whose

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4 thoughts on “Small Blood Monitoring Implant Sends Information To User’s Smartphone Before a Heart Attack

  1. I found the topic of this post very interesting because it gives a clear explanation of a technology that only recently became available and it is on a topic that is we are all affected by, human health. You made this potentially confusing topic seem very simply by means of good writing and made good use of the medium by embedding relevant pictures. I also really liked how you examined this new technology from both sides, speaking of both its strengths and deficiencies. My one suggestion for future blog posts would be to even further utilize the online nature of the blog by including videos or charts and also making a more clear connection to the class material. Your post definitely goes along with our class discussions thus far, just explicitly make that connection next time.

  2. With this time period being called by some the Third Industrial Revolution, it was evident that medicine and medical work would be a main source of improvement. With the technology we have today, and the huge investment in human capital that we have today, there are millions of young minds being educated on these topics and therefore all of them are thinking about ways to improve the world and save lives. Technologies like this, if perfected and safe, are important because they see the issue before it becomes serious. This would allow the user time to contact someone for help before it is too late. I think this is an interest topic and would love to read follow up articles about this device.

  3. Really interesting topic here! Great explanation of the technology and how it works.Your point about technology reaching new heights is well taken, however in the future it would be interesting to see how a topic such as this relates explicitly back to class material. Thanks for sharing!

  4. This topic is new and very interesting. This is the first time I have heard of this computer chip technology. While it looks to be a new and exciting technology for the future, I am hesitant to rant and rave about it. Five years from now, what will we be saying about this technology? It’s quite different from other similar advancements in technology because this involves the human body. What about potential side effects of this chip monitoring our system? Will the repeated removal and installation of the chip affect our lives? In the best case scenario, the technology is extremely successful and then we become dependent on this technology. Once dependent, if it ever fails, we might not have the ability to correct its mistakes. This describes the Ripple Effect of technology.

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