HOUSTON -- A new device being tested in Houston can tell you if you're going to have a heart attack before you have any symptoms.
With more than a million Americans having heart attacks every year, it's a promising breakthrough that could save lives.
Sixteen years ago, Ronnie Ross, of Somerville, had a heart attack.
Two years ago, he had bypass surgery.
“That's when I found out I had 90 percent blockage,” said Ronnie Ross. “I was a walking heart attack”.
Today, the 63-year-old knows he's still at risk which is why doctors at Katy Cardiology recently tried something new. They implanted a small device called the Guardian cardiac monitor.
It goes just beneath Ross's skin and near his heart. That’s where it tracks EKGs.
If there's a block and the rhythm becomes irregular, it will vibrate and beep letting Ross know that a heart attack is coming -- all before he feels any pain.
Ross said it hasn’t gone off yet, “thank God.”
Each device comes with its own pager that can detect the severity of the situation. If one light goes off, you’re supposed to call your doctor. If the other light goes off, you’re supposed to go straight to the emergency room.
“So the concept is that we will be able to save many lives and we will be able to improve the quality of life in people who have heart disease by having this machine implanted,” said interventional cardiologist Dr. Amir Kashani.
The Guardian system was developed by New Jersey-based AngelMed. It’s still in the clinical testing phase.
While there is no timeline for FDA approval, the doctors at Katy Cardiology have already implanted nearly a dozen of them, and they believe the findings are promising.
“The patients who have had this machine end up reaching therapy and getting treatment for their heart attacks much faster than the patients who don't have the machine,” said Dr. Kashani.
Ross said he doesn’t have any concerns or worries of risks; instead, it gives him peace of mind.
“You don't always feel it when you're fixing to have a heart attack,” said Ross. “i know that it's going to tell me.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 935,000 Americans will have a heart attack this year.
Through this device, the hope is that at least some of them will see it coming.