UAMS, CAVHS First in Arkansas to Wirelessly Transmit Heart Data from Ambulance to Cardiologist

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – A new system to wirelessly transmit heart monitor data from the ambulance to a cardiologist is now available at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHS), the first hospitals in Arkansas to use the technology.


The new system – dubbed “CALL” or Cardiac Action Life Link – could significantly reduce the time to treatment for a patient experiencing a heart attack by getting the data more quickly into the hands of the doctor who can decide the best treatment. Ibrahim Fahdi, M.D., a cardiologist and an assistant professor of internal medicine in the UAMS College of Medicine and a staff physician with CAVHS, worked with wireless provider Verizon Wireless and Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services (MEMS) to get the technology in place.


“Since irreversible or potentially fatal damage to the heart can occur quickly, the faster we receive the ECG information, the quicker we can mobilize personnel and equipment to start treatment,” said Fahdi. “With its capability of transmitting the electrocardiogram (ECG) directly to a cardiologist, this wireless system has the potential to greatly reduce the time to treatment and save lives.”


MEMS ambulances in the Little Rock metropolitan area will be able to transmit ECG recordings to the cardiologist on call and to the emergency department at either UAMS Medical Center or the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital. An ECG records the electric activity of the heart and can be used to identify the signs of a heart attack taking place.


The cardiologist receives the ECG information via a handheld wireless device donated by Verizon Wireless. Verizon Wireless also provided transmission equipment and wireless phones for the ambulances.


The physician can mobilize personnel and equipment before the patient arrives – even allowing the patient to bypass the emergency department and go directly to a catheterization laboratory for treatment of blockages to restore the blood flow to the heart.


“Wireless technology can truly help save lives. Verizon Wireless is proud to partner with UAMS and MEMs to provide this wireless system in central Arkansas that could make a lifesaving difference for someone suffering a heart attack,” said Luis M Cruz, region president for Verizon Wireless.


Heart experts say that heart attack patients benefit most when receiving treatment within 90 minutes from the time symptoms start.


A cardiology team at a North Carolina hospital that uses a similar wireless ECG system reported saving more than an hour in getting a patient to the catheterization laboratory compared to a national benchmark with five cases documented for an article in the October 2005 issue of the Journal of Electrocardiology.


The time elapsed from each patient reaching the hospital to receiving treatment ranged from 27 to 35 minutes, according to the article. This was compared to the national average door-to-treatment time of 100 to 105 minutes reported by the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction.


Heart disease, which causes heart attacks, is the nation’s leading cause of death for both men and women, responsible for nearly 40 percent of all deaths annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 1.2 million Americans experience an acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack, each year, resulting in nearly 495,000 deaths.


Previously it was possible to transmit an ECG recording from the ambulance to a station in a hospital’s emergency department. Wireless technology and high-speed wireless data networks can now allow transmission of the ECG recordings directly to the cardiologist on call.


With the new system, a paramedic in the field detecting the signs of a heart attack can transmit the recording via wireless modem to the cardiologist and emergency department. There the cardiologist will assess the ECG and coordinate the best course of treatment with the paramedic, the emergency department and the hospital’s cardiac team.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,430 students and 715 medical residents. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,400 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.5 billion a year. For more information, visit