Hamilton-made heart attack diagnostic app set to expand use into Ottawa

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Published January 17, 2024 at 1:18 pm

A cardiologist ussing a Hamilton-born app to diagnose a STEMI heart attack. - via Hamilton Health Sciences

A Hamilton-made smartphone app doctors use to securely share heart attack diagnostic information is set to expand its use into the Ottawa area following successful at-home trials.

The SMART AMI app by Sayhut Inc. allows emergency doctors to share electrocardiogram (ECG) images with cardiologists for fast consults to identify ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) heart attacks, during which the coronary artery is completely blocked. This form of heart attack can quickly prove deadly and requires quick intervention.

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) shared the story of Burlington resident Paul Cropper, 81, who awoke late at night with severe chest pain. Cropper rushed to the ER at Burlington’s Joseph Brant Hospital where the doctors suspected he was having a STEMI.

The doctors in Burlington used the SMART AMI app to forward Cropper’s ECG to a cardiologist at the Hamilton General Hospital, the region’s cardiology centre, who quickly confirmed the STEMI. As a result, Cropper was able to be transferred to Hamilton General for an emergency angioplasty to open the blocked artery.

The app was developed by Dr. Hassan Mir and Dr. Talha Syed while the pair studied as residents at McMaster University. The pair developed the app over a few years during their off-hours.  “It was something we did on our own time, after work and on weekends,” Mir told HHS, “It became a passion project.”

It has since been used in two Hamilton-based trials to prove its efficacy. The first trial from 2020 to 2022 allowed doctors across Niagara Region to share information. SMART AMI was proven to speed up communication and get STEMI patients to Hamilton General’s catheterization lab faster. The success of this trial led to another involving 14 area hospitals.

So far 350 doctors have been trained to use the app throughout the trials. When the latest ends this spring, the app is expected to remain in use at Hamilton General. Most Canadian and Ontario hospitals are still using fax machines and email to send the same information the app does. While secure, these methods took much longer than modern technology would allow.

“Canadian guidelines say that once a STEMI patient arrives at a hospital emergency department, they need to be diagnosed and receive treatment at a regional catheterization lab within two hours, where appropriate, for the best chance of survival and to avoid major adverse cardiac events,” HHS described.

“This fast, secure, easy-to-use and privacy-compliant smartphone app allows for real-time ECG review and decision-making for STEMI patients,” HHS wrote, “The app also helps improve hospital efficiency by ensuring that only those patients needing emergency angioplasty treatment are brought to the catheterization lab.”

Moving forward the plan is to expand the app into use by paramedics when assessing a patient in their home, before they even arrive at an ER. Additionally, the project has received a $500,000 grant from the Ontario Centre of Innovation to expand the app’s use into the Ottawa area. This funding is part of an $8.2 million investment of 13 approved projects.

Ultimately the goal is to “expand to hospital systems provincially, nationally and internationally,” HHS said.

 

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