Device created using printer may predict heart attacks

A new 3D device created with the help of a printer precisely fits the entire epicardium and may help clinicians predict a heart attack as well as deliver treatment and assess heart health, according to research published online Feb. 25 in Nature Communications.

An international team of investigators developed an elastic silicon 3D membrane—known as a 3D multifunctional integumentary membrane (3D-MIM)—that can match the shape of the epicardium. With the membrane in place, the researchers used sensors on it that measured temperature, mechanical strain, pH and other markers. The sensors also could deliver electric shock if arrhythmia occurred.

Using rabbit hearts, the team found that the 3D-MIM remained in place, but did not exert excessive pressure on the pericardium that could potentially interfere with heart function. It also can map rhythms in a normal beating heart without displacing the sensors.

“The devices could be used to identify critical regions that indicate the origin of pathophysiological conditions such as arrhythmias, ischemia or heart failure,” wrote the authors.

Co-investigator Igor R. Efimov, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis, said in a press release that the among the potential uses for the membrane is as a treatment for ventricular diseases and atrial fibrillation, as well as a way to predict heart attacks by measuring troponin.

These devices will eventually combine with ventricular assist devices, he added.