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What if you could detect a heart attack before it struck so that a patient could seek medical attention to prevent it? This is exactly the question that Mary Carol Day and Christopher Young set out to answer when studying the effectiveness of the AngelMed Guardian © medical device. The device is implanted in the upper left of a patient’s chest and vibrates to signal an impending heart attack or when one has started. The vibrations inside the chest signal the severity of the problem. An external device also gives off alarms and flashes when a heart attack is detected. This device has the advantage of providing a vibrotactile signal in addition to auditory and visual signals. For elderly patients, the sense of vibrations may be easier to detect than an alarm that they may not be able to hear or a flashing light if hidden in a pocket.

In the study appearing in Ergonomics in Design, the researches tested the device among a group of older adults and found that they liked the ease of use and the simultaneous multiple signals alerting them of a potential heart problem. The participants were able to detect the severity of the heart problem indicated by differences in vibrations.

Day and Young have high hopes for the AngelMed Guardian © device. Day believes that, “if the Guardian is approved for sale by the FDA, it might be extended in ways that will change the way the patient interacts with the system as a whole.”


Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. “Implantable medical device is designed to warn patients of impending heart attack.” ScienceDaily, 13 Apr. 2012. Web. 13 Apr. 2012.