Scientists have developed a new cardiac vest that can diagnose heart attacks as soon as they happen, a feat they say could lead to new and effective ways of treating heart patients.
Conventional electrocardiograph technology, which has been around for the past 60 years, has its limitations and patients have to face delays of up 12 hours for blood test results, during which continuing damage may be done.
But the new cardiac vest, developed by a British company, can give doctors detailed information within minutes about whether a patient is suffering an attack and where within the heart the problem is situated, the researchers said.
UK's Bradford Royal Infirmary will be the first hospital in world to use the revolutionary cardiac vest, which contains 80 sensors attached to a patient's chest and back.
If trials of the new "Heartscape" device are successful, sufferers could be diagnosed up to 12 hours earlier than usual, the researchers said.
Dr James Dunbar, consultant physician at Bradford Royal Infirmary, said the vest would enable speedier treatment for heart attack patients and also detect signs of heart disease.
"Current conventional machines are insensitive for diagnosis of heart disease," Dr Dunbar was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
"This new Heartscape vest will help us gain an instant in-depth 3D view, making it easier to interpret whether a patient is having a heart attack, enabling treatment to start earlier and hopefully lead to improved patient outcomes."
Prof Clive Kay, medical director of NHS trust, said the vest would help identify high-risk patients "when every minute counts" so treatment could begin earlier than at present.
The vest will be available to high risk patients in the hospital from March and the trust hopes to widen the vest trial throughout the hospital in 2013.