Award-Winning Device Helps Detect Heart Problems

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PLAINS TOWNSHIP — If you’ve been in a hospital or even seen a TV show set in a hospital, you’ve seen this machine, sometimes mounted on a wall or on wheels.  It’s a heart monitor, among other things.

But Dr. Terry Bauch notes he can’t throw it in a backpack.

“We’re looking for ways to get technology that’s effective, safe, cheap, small and portable that we can do testing for fluid overload,” said Dr. Bauch

Dr. Bauch is a cardiologist at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center near Wilkes-Barre.  He also was a military physician doctoring to troops in the field.

Measuring a patient’s fluid, he says, is a way to detect impending heart failure.

“The heart is a pump.  So just as your sump pumps go and water backs up, in heart failure, that fluid overload causes symptoms.  We’re looking for test that tell us that a patient is building fluid before that basement is flooded, just as water is starting to trickle in,” said Dr. Bauch.

Easy to do at a hospital.  Even easier Dr. Bauch said, with the Valsalva Test Device, a third place winner in the 2013 National Micro-Medic Contest.

It uses blood pressure during exertion to measure fluid levels, by having the patient blow into a tube for 10 seconds and getting a blood pressure reading at the same time.

“If you’ve ever had to push your car in the snow and strain and hold your breath and you get light-headed afterwards? That reflex is different in people who have fluid overload,” said the doctor.

Dr. Bauch entered the contest, collaborating with an engineer from Virginia who created this prototype from his idea.

In order to be used in practice, it would need a formal governmental approval process, not to mention testing and trials.

But Dr. Bauch said with the right backing, it could be a part of big movement to make things smaller through micro-medicine.