Local doctors at Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation Health have begun using a new implantable diagnostic system for some of their cardiac patients, in hopes of reducing costly hospital admissions for heart failure, one of the major causes of death in the United States.
The first and only FDA-approved heart failure-monitoring system, CardioMEMS features a battery-free implant sensor that detects pulmonary blood irregularities and sends that data through wireless communications to Sutter heart specialists.
The diagnostic system allows cardiologists to fine-tune a heart failure patient’s medication to regulate such things as heart rate and blood pressure. The process is known as titration, and for patients with weak hearts changes in titration can be “a fine line” between a patient feeling good or feeling dizzy or nauseated, said Dr. Daniel Brenner, an interventional cardiologist with Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation, an affiliate of Sutter Health.
The ultimate goal is to reduce heart complications that land a patient in the hospital, he said.
“Every time a heart failure patient gets admitted for heart failure their chance of dying increases,” Brenner said, adding that each episode that requires hospitalization results in “systemic stress on the body, and every time you do that, it’s detrimental to your body functions.”
Brenner said a weight scale is the usual diagnostic tool for many heart failure patients. A patient is expected to track significant changes in weight and report it to their doctors or heart nurse. Weight gain resulting from stress hormones is often an indicator that the heart is not working well, Brenner said.
The new CardioMEMS sensor is the size of a small paper clip and is inserted in a pulmonary artery near the heart. It goes to work when a patient is at rest, communicating through wireless technology with a pillow that contains an antenna. The pillow is connected to a monitor that sends the data over a secure network to Sutter doctors.