Ever Notice What a Heart Attack Sounds Like?

I did seven years of emergency medicine and even with a stethoscope never detected any sound that could make troponins obsolete and MI’s diagnosed before EMS arrival.  But it turns out the click-bait title is either just the media confusing MI with cardiac arrest, or Silicon Valley exaggerating the benefits of their intrusion into health care.  At least they quote the researchers who make it clear that Alexa is learning to recognize agonal respirations.  No doubt they are concerned with V tach/V fib in someone who didn’t recognize the symptoms of an MI beforehand. And if the patient is within 2-3 minutes of EMS there could be a benefit, or maybe by the time the respirations are agonal there’d be even less time.  But will they succeed in getting that message to the journalists and marketers? And who is it inserted the word “diagnose”, Silicon Valley’s holy grail?    

Of course there’s plenty of other causes of death, or should I say agonal respirations, that are not so successfully treated.  I fear the lonely frail who hope to go peacefully and unexpectedly at home will be instead getting the sirens, code, ER and ICU, all of it prolonged torture unless they die quickly.  The few survivors would end up considerably more debilitated which many might call years of torture.  If the marketing is anything like this headline, their relatives may be signing them up for it with no notion. And once the ambulance leaves the station it’s pretty hard to stop.

At least the researchers say they are holding out until they get the false positive rate down. Imagine EMS showing up at your door saying you sounded like you were having a heart attack! 

Bridget Reidy MD

Bridget Reidy is an FP practicing near Victoria, British Columbia who abhors hypocrisy, waste, euphemisms, and useless bureaucrats, ie inauthentic medicine. She was a board certified FP with a certificate of additional qualifications in palliaitive care, no longer because, MOC. She did her residency in rural Marquette Michigan in the eighties, and spent her career mostly in the US in a variety of settings, emergency, urgent care, family practice - including locums on reservations, prisons and medicaid mills, and housecall practice - including work as a hospice medical director. Now she owns and runs a solo cottage industry style family practice, typical of Canadain FP's. She is on the advisory board of The Medical Post, Canada's newsletter for physicians, and a member of BC GP's for reform. 

  2 comments for “Ever Notice What a Heart Attack Sounds Like?

  1. August 2, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    LOL! Yeah, I sounded like that on our last wedding anniversary — TWICE. I’m pretty sure I even had an asthmatic sounding wheeze part of the time.

  2. Pat
    July 31, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Bravo, good piece. What a world.

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