Medical firsts to keep your heart going

FRESNO, Calif.

It's a scene that plays out across America every day.

A heart attack strikes. A heart stops.

It happened to Carl Honaker.

"I had a little pain, but that was it," Carl Honaker, heart attack sufferer, told Action News.

Three months and several stents later, doctors say Honaker could be implanted with a new heart attack warning system called the guardian alert system.

The pacemaker-like device is implanted in the chest. A wire extending into the heart continuously analyzes heart rhythm -- looking for signs of a blocked coronary artery.

"This is looking for subtle changes that are associated with a decrease in blood flow to a region of the heart." Andrew Kaplan, M.D. Cardiac Electrophysiologist from Banner Heart Hospital said.

If the system detects a heart problem, the device vibrates in the chest. A pager the patient carries with them also flashes and beeps and tells them to call 911.

And when you get to the doctor with chest pains, instead of their stethoscope, doctors may pull out the world's smallest ultrasound machine. It can immediately show them if you're suffering from heartburn or a heart attack.

"I can turn it around and show the patient their own heart and when a patient see's their own heart, it really makes an impression, so if their walls are too thin or if one of their valves is leaking." Tony DeMaria, M.D. from UC San Diego said.

Using 3-D technology, Dr. DeMaria can see the size, shape and function of the heart in real-time.

Whether you're at home, at the doctor's office or in the operating room, there are new technologies that can bring peace of mind and save lives.

"I'm just glad I'm healthy and alive." Honaker concluded.

The best way to keep your heart going is to practice prevention and know your heart health.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Barbara Lambeth Banner Heart Hospital

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