Tokyo: Japanese researchers are developing a new car that can not only warn its driver of an impending heart attack, but also predict the ailment in advance.
The car will have two electric poles for electrocardiographic monitoring and sensors mounted in the steering wheel to detect pulse waves created in blood vessels when blood flows from the heart.
"We want to reduce the number of unfortunate accidents" by developing the system "as early as possible," said Takao Kato, a professor emeritus at Nippon Medical School, who proposed the project.
As the driver holds the sterring wheel, his or her electrocardiograms and pulse waves are continuously recorded.
Data is analysed on a real-time basis and the driver is informed of any dangerous symptoms by voice and on the car navigation system and instructed to pull the vehicle to the side of the road, 'Kyodo' reported.
Researchers analysed electrocardiograms of 34 people who developed ventricular fibrillations or acute heart attacks while wearing a Holter monitor, which continuously records the heart's rhythms.
While 20 of them died as a result, the analysis found that 31 people had shown a common pattern of fluctuations in the autonomic nerves one to two hours before their cardiac troubles.
"If the pattern can be detected, heart attacks can be anticipated to some extent," Kato said.
Kato suggested that the planned system will not only warn drivers of possible cardiac attacks just before they occur but also predict them much in advance.
Clear data on the rhythms can be obtained by improving the circuits of the detector, said Tsuyoshi Nakagawa, a senior engineer at Denso Corporation.
In order to increase accuracy, researchers have added electrodes to the driver's seat so that electrocardiograms can be measured even when people drive with only one hand on the wheel.