UC San Diego doctor creates new way to diagnose irregular heartbeat

vMap system uses EKG to create 3D image of heart
UCSD Heart Scan.png
Posted at 6:35 AM, Feb 22, 2022

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) - A doctor at UC San Diego has created a new way for physiologists to identify the source of irregular heartbeats.

Dr. David Krummen created vMap, a computer program that takes EKG data and uses it to make a 3D model of the heart, highlighting problem areas associated with arrhythmia.

"We can tell you within about a centimeter where that arrhythmia is coming from," he says.

Dr. Krummen and his team created a computer program that compares EKG results with more than a million other simulations of heart arrhythmia. It can then pinpoint the source of the problem. The whole process takes about 5 minutes and can be done in any medical setting with an EKG machine.

"Right now, the ways that we map (arrhythmia) are a little bit burdensome and invasive and not very effective," Dr. Krummen explains.

Traditionally, doctors looked for the location of an irregular heartbeat through two methods. In one, they run an internal catheter to the heart and manually search specific areas. In the other, patients wear a large electrode vest while getting a CAT-Scan. Dr. Krummen says both methods are expensive, time-consuming, and risky.

Dr. Krummen says vMap is faster, easier, less invasive, and safer to map an arrhythmia.

"This takes about five minutes to enter the data, put on the stickers, and run the run the machine," he says.

According to the CDC, Atrial Fibrillation, the most common form of arrhythmia in the US, is responsible for 454,000 hospitalizations and 158,000 deaths per year. Dr. Krummen believes his vMap system will lead to better treatment, keeping people with irregular heartbeats alive and away from the hospital.

After studies at four heart clinics around the nation, vMap got FDA approval in November of 2021. It debuted at UC San Diego Health in early February. Dr. Krummen believes it will become the industry standard once more people hear about it.

"It's so simple and straightforward and non-invasive," he says. "Why wouldn't you better map and direct your targeted therapies using this technology?"

In April, Dr. Krummen will present vMap at the annual Heart Rhythm Society Conference.