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Apr 26, 2006

Simulator Allows Doctors To Experience Heart Failure

Via the Presence Listserv

From the web site of WCAU, NBC10, in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA -- Every year more than a half-million Americans go into heart failure. Cardiologists know the symptoms, but can they really understand what heart failure patients go through?

Doctors and nurses who treat heart-failure patients get a chance to feel and experience what heart failure is really like.

Symptoms of heart failure include difficulty breathing, feeling tired, heart palpitations and tightness in the chest.

Doctors and nurses are placed inside Heart FXPod [<http://www.heartfxpod.com/>], created for Astra-Zeneca, which simulates what it is like for their patients.

They use the pedals to walk like a heart-failure patients and use headphones to be trapped in the patient's world

The doctors and nurses are strapped in a pneumatic vest that inflates and suddenly makes it difficult for them to breathe.
It is virtual reality, but it is a little more real than some might like.

"Severe chest tightness. So now I know what my patients go through," said Dr. Siva Srinivasan, of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Srinivason said that after the simulator, he might treat his patients differently.

The Heart FXPod is a multi-sensory interactive simulation that leaves you with no doubt what it's like when your heart fails to provide enough oxygen and blood flow to your body.
If someone trying the pod gets scared they have the ability to stop it.

Dr. Paul Mather directs the Advanced Heart Failure Center at the Jefferson Heart Institute.

"Everyone has sympathy towards other human beings. I think that's part of our human element. But empathy, where you can actually feel what another person is going through as opposed to just feeling sorry for them, is different. I think if we can marry that feeling to the science of medicine, it will make for a better health care provider," Mather said.

Mather said that about 15 years ago, heart failure was a death sentence. Now, doctors can help it regress and patients can often end up living good lives.

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