WAP technology allows mile-high heart monitoring

Australian company Micromedical Industries has developed a remote data monitoring tool for the world's major airlines that ensures better care for flyers suffering a heart attack.

In the most practical implementation of a wireless application protocol (WAP) device yet, British Airways, US Airways, Varig Brazilian Airlines and Northwest are in the process of installing Micromedical Industries' Biolog 3000 heart monitor and its Cardioview software to assess a passenger's cardiac condition in the event of an emergency.

Using the aircraft's satellite communication system, aircraft radios and the phone network, the unit -- about the size of a small paperback -- can send electrocardiogram (ECG) data to almost anywhere in the world for analysis by the patient's own doctor or an expert cardiologist.

Micromedical Industries develops the product and builds the software in Australia. It believes the technology can provide specially trained cabin crew with almost instant and expert advice on procedures if a passenger suffers a possible cardiac arrest.

"If someone becomes ill on a flight, our monitors can help distinguish between serious cardiac problems and other benign conditions that may masquerade as a cardiac event, and which could result in a plane being diverted, at substantial cost, unnecessarily," said Dr John Woodard, CEO of Micromedical Industries.

"This enables on-the-spot emergency treatment, which could include drugs or an electric shock to the heart by a defibrillator to restore the heart's normal rhythm."

The Biolog 3000 heart monitor has received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration. The unit is also used by physicians, emergency services and hospitals and has the distinction of being carried by astronauts on a US Space Shuttle.

The portability of the heart monitor was demonstrated on a global scale last year when Australian ultramarathon runner Pat Farmer's heart rate and ECG were cybercast live on the internet during part of his run around Australia for the Centenary of Federation.

Micromedical Industries, founded in 1986 and listed as a public company since 1993, exports around 95 per cent of its product and software, mainly to Europe. This is the company's first major foray into the US market.

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