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News Room: Press Releases

Virtua participates in national cardiac study

There are over one million heart attacks in the United States each year with more than 400,000 of these resulting in death. Early detection and prompt treatment of heart attack can significantly improve clinical outcomes, but despite education efforts over the last decade, the average time for arrival at the hospital following symptoms of a heart attack has remained at 2.5 to three hours. Virtua Marlton Hospital has been selected as one of only five hospitals in the United States, and the only one on the east coast, to participate in the DETECT Trial, the study of a device implanted into high risk cardiac patients that will alert them to an impending heart attack. During the initial phase of the study the developer of the device, Angel Medical Systems, collaborates with selected healthcare organizations to implant the Guardian System that measures signals from within patients at high risk for AMI or heart attacks. The Guardian System developed in Shrewsbury, NJ, can help decrease the time it takes to recognize heart attack symptoms and obtain necessary medical help immediately. Dr. Richard Kovach, who is a cardiologist at Virtua Marlton Hospital and the Associated Cardiovascular Consultants, is the principal investigator of the study. He says: "By monitoring the heart's electrical signals, this device detects changes that may indicate a heart attack and alerts patients to seek immediate medical attention. This is important since patients frequently do not have clear symptoms." The first implantation of the device at Virtua Marlton Hospital took place last month in a 61-year-old male patient with a complex cardiac history and recurrence of symptoms. The procedure, which is considered experimental, is very similar to a pacemaker insertion. The device is implanted under the skin in the upper left side of the chest and a wire runs to the heart. If the monitor detects an abnormality it vibrates gently underneath the skin. A signal is also sent to an External Alarm Device, which beeps and lights up, alerting the patient to immediately seek medical attention. The first phase of the study will include 20 patients nationwide. Subsequent phases of the study will include more hospitals and will increase the sample group to thousands of high-risk patients.
As one of New Jersey’s largest health systems, Virtua helps people be well, get well and stay well through a comprehensive range of health care services. Services are delivered through three health and wellness centers, three fitness centers, four acute care hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices with more than 240 physicians, urgent care centers, seven ambulatory surgery centers, home health services, two long-term care and rehabilitation centers, 12 paramedic units and a wide range of outpatient services. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers more than 8,000 babies a year. Virtua also provides employment and wellness services to 1,700 businesses and corporations. An innovator in clinical and information technology such as electronic medical records, Virtua is recognized for its ground-breaking partnerships with GE Healthcare, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Virtua employs more than 8,400 people and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley every year since 2007. It is the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit  www.virtua.org or www.virtuabroadcastnetwork.org.