About five million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, a quivering heartbeat that can lead to blood clots and increase the risk of a stroke by 500 percent. The condition is currently treated with a lifetime course of continuous blood thinners, which are effective at preventing blood clots but raise the chances of serious bleeding. Dr. Rod Passman, a cardiology professor at North-western University, recently conducted a study with a radically different approach:
Heart monitor the size of a paper clip were inserted under the skin to measure the electrical output of patients’ hearts in real time. They alerted Dr. Passman with a text message if they detected signs of A-fib. When that happened, he’d initiate a course of next-generation blood thinners that would act just long enough to normalize patients 'rhythms. Without inventing a new device or discovering a new drug, Dr. Passman's novel integration of the two into an on-demand system stands to transform the way we treat the sick.