Disruptions of the heart's regular rhythm, known as cardiac arrhythmias, kill or disable more than 7 million people worldwide each year. In the April issue of Nature Medicine, Yoram Rudy and colleagues report on a new technique for diagnosing and guiding the treatment of heart arrhythmias.
Electrocardiograms (ECG) are routinely used in the clinic to identify heart problems. But an ECG measures the heart's electrical impulses only after they reach the surface of the body, so it lacks sensitivity and specificity. Rudy and colleagues developed a new method, called electrocardiographic imaging (ECGI), which combines ECG with computed tomography, a standard technique that uses X rays to reconstruct images. The researchers used ECGI on human test subjects to correlate the ECG electrical data directly with images of the heart's surface. The additional information allowed them to see how different regions of the heart change their rhythm under abnormal conditions.
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