Cardiovascular diseases cause a large number of deaths around the world. Unfortunately, treating cardiovascular diseases in impoverished countries can be difficult. In the African country Cameroon, there are only about 50 cardiologists for about 20 million people. The Cardiopad is an innovative technology that aims to alleviate this problem.

The location of doctors throughout Cameroon tends to disadvantage those who live in rural areas. In the villages around the suburbs, there are general practitioners who treat the villagers. A large number of these practitioners do not have a specialization, so they cannot do much beyond recommending patients go see a specialist if they believe they need one.

If a patient is experiencing chest pains or shows symptoms of a cardiovascular disease, they make an appointment to see a cardiologist in the city. Because there are so few cardiologists, it can take months before they are seen, and many will die before seeing a specialist.

Arthur Zang, the inventor of the Cardiopad, noticed this issue and set out to fix it. Zang understood that going to see a doctor from the Cameroon villages was difficult, so he invented a way to lessen the need to make a trip to the city. He created the Cardiopad, a tablet device with electrodes that can give a 97.5 percent accurate reading of the heart. Essentially, it is a mobile electrodiagram (ECG).

Although Zang provided general practitioners with the tools to perform a heart scan, they still do not have the proper training to interpret the scans themselves. The information gathered from the Cardiopad is actually sent to the national data center, and it is then received by the cardiologists in the city. Once the cardiologists receive the heart scan, they can interpret the results to see what kind of treatment is needed and can send treatment recommendations back to the general practitioner. The process that would ordinarily take many months can now be done within 20 minutes.

This is a phenomenal step forward for diagnosing and treating cardiovascular diseases in impoverished countries. Now, even in rural Cameroon, local practitioners can work with cardiologists and can properly diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases.

Furthermore, the technology eases the economic burden of traveling and medical expenses for patients. The Cardiopad only costs $29 a year to use, compared to the staggering costs of going to see a specialist. In this way, the Cardiopad saves time and money for patients in need.

Treating cardiovascular diseases in impoverished countries has become much easier with the Cardiopad. It allows rural residents to get the proper diagnosis they may need in order to save their lives. The Cardiopad is being distributed in Cameroon, India, Gabon and Nepal, and more countries are sure to follow. The Cardiopad can potentially save millions of lives that would have been taken from cardiovascular diseases in impoverished countries.

– Daniel Borjas

Photo: Flickr