Chicago’s cred as a tech hub is beating strongly for heart health.

Some latest innovations include:

— Imagine people with heart failure getting a small sensor implanted inside their hearts and scanning their chests each day to send a heart-health reading to their cardiologists and clinicians. A Lisle-based company, Endotronix, has implanted the sensor inside a patient in Belgium, and aims to get U.S. regulators’ approval for use here in 2020.

Toronto’s York University researchers are creating 3D heart tissue that aims to let doctors better understand cardiac health. | COURTESY OF YORK UNIVERSITY

The system is designed to help heart-failure patients live at home and reduce the number of emergency hospitalizations they require when fluid builds up in their lungs without daily monitoring, said Harry Rowland, who earned his doctorate in mechanical engineering. He is co-founder with Dr. Anthony Nunez, a cardio-thoracic surgeon. The system includes software that lets doctors identify the patient care they provide so they can more easily bill Medicare.

— Now imagine doctors using a heart-mapping system to detect abnormal heart rhythms without inserting a catheter or anything else inside a patient’s heart. The system, by Swiss-based company EP Solutions, would place about 200 electrodes on the patient’s chest and back. The electrodes connect to a machine loaded with computer software that draws a picture of an abnormal heart rhythm the moment it occurs, and pinpoints exactly where it occurred inside the heart. The research on using the electrodes and coming up with a way to treat abnormal heart rhythms without using a catheter are underway at the University of Illinois-Chicago Innovation Center, led by “heart electrician” Dr. Erik Wissner, director of cardiac electrophysiology at the University of Illinois Health’s division of cardiology.

— Chicago-area residents who need heart transplants are getting an “extra” heart and a double pulse, letting their diseased hearts rest, through a device that’s implanted through a 1.5-inch incision, eliminating the need for open-heart surgery. The device, called the NuPulseCV iVAS, is also aimed at helping heart-failure patients get well enough to avoid needing a transplant and catching problems early enough so those who could use a transplant never suffer liver or kidney failure that can knock them out of getting a transplant.

The next stage of heart-failure research seeks to use the second heart device along with gene therapy and stem cells to correct the abnormalities that cause heart failure and make the patients better, said Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam, professor and chief of cardiac and thoracic surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine, and the device’s creator.

— Outside of Chicago, researchers are creating 3D heart tissue that aims to let doctors better understand cardiac health. The researchers, led by chemistry professor Muhammad Yousaf, devised a way to stick three types of cardiac cells together, like Velcro, to make heart tissue that beats as one. The breakthrough aims to let doctors make better and earlier drug testing, and potentially eliminating harmful or toxic medications sooner,” Yousaf said.

Sandra Guy is a local freelance writer.

Left image: Sensor implanted in the pulmonary artery of the heart. Right image: Software system in the patient’s home to guide them through their measurements