UA College of Nursing Faculty Member Receives Major Grant to Study Detection of Sudden Heart Attack

<p>A faculty member... has received a prestigious $1.73 million federal grant.</p>

UA College of Nursing Faculty Member Receives
Major Grant to Study Detection of Sudden Heart Attack


Dec. 10, 2001
From: George Humphrey, (520) 626-7301
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A faculty member at the University of Arizona College of Nursing has received a prestigious $1.73 million federal grant to further her studies to find better diagnostic methods for early detection of sudden heart attack.

Dec. 10, 2001 From: George Humphrey, (520) 626-7301 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A faculty member at the has received a prestigious $1.73 million federal grant to further her studies to find better diagnostic methods for early detection of sudden heart attack.


Shu-Fen Wung, PhD, associate professor at the UA College of Nursing, has received a $1.73 million, four-year grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research (National Institutes of Health) to fund her research project, "New Electrocardiographic Criteria for Posterior Myocardial Infarction." (An electrocardiogram is a recording of the electrical activity of the heart on a moving strip of paper. It is a readily available, simple, noninvasive, and inexpensive diagnostic tool to detect presence and location of sudden heart attack. Changes on electrocardiogram are used to tailor treatment options.)

Dr. Wung's research focuses on the clinical aspects of cardiac rhythm monitoring. She is seeking to develop sensitive and reliable methods to enhance the early diagnosis and management of patients with acute coronary syndromes in order to improve patient outcomes. Her current research focuses on methods to enhance early and accurate assessment in patients who suffer from a sudden heart attack. Currently, standard 12-lead electrocardiograms are obtained on all patients presenting to the emergency department with chest pain. However, approximately 50 percent of patients with a sudden heart attack are missed on this routine test, Dr. Wung says.

For example, a sudden heart attack that occurs in the back side of the heart ("acute posterior wall myocardial infarction") frequently is undetectable using a standard 12-lead electrocardiogram because none of these leads are placed on the back of the chest. For the last six years, Dr. Wung has found that the use of extra leads that are placed on the back of the chest, along with new electrocardiographic criteria developed from her earlier research, can significantly improve detection of sudden heart events.

This four-year clinical trial aims to validate the value of these extra leads for identifying cardiac patients with sudden posterior wall heart attack in the emergency department where the initial evaluation is conducted. These extra leads along with new criteria can be used by health care clinicians to facilitate decision-making in the emergency department in patients suffering from a sudden heart attack.

"These noninvasive extra leads can be easily obtained from the existing electrocardiographic machine. They have potential to become a part of routine care to benefit heart patients in the future" Dr. Wung says.

Another aim of this study is to interview patients who suffer from a sudden posterior wall heart attack about their presenting symptoms. "With the use of these extra leads, we will be able to identify patients with sudden heart attack who are frequently misdiagnosed. Therefore, this study has the potential to provide the most accurate data on symptom presentations related sudden heart attack," she says.

Finally, this study will investigate the long-term outcomes in patients who suffered a sudden heart attack. This information will be valuable for health care providers to determine what factors might influence patients' recovery after hospital discharge.

NOTE: In related news, Dr. Wung was inducted as a fellow of the American Heart Association and the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing. She received the honor at the American Heart Association scientific meeting Nov. 13. This fellowship is awarded to individuals who demonstrate meritorious contributions through practice, research and/or education that are recognized on a national level.