Lifewatch: Heart monitoring system

Reported by Claire Hosmann - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - There is a new kind of heart monitoring system that keeps a closer eye on patients' conditions at home.

It's as small as a grain of rice, but it could be an important discovery for millions with heart failure.

Heart failure affects more than 5 million people in the United States.  It is the number one reason people over the age of 70 are hospitalized.

For patients, even the slightest change in diet or routine can turn into an emergency.

Now, there is a way to keep an eye on patients without constantly bringing them into the doctors office.

For George Marra, living with heart failure means spending a lot of time in hospitals and doctors offices. He is constantly trying to keep fluid levels in his lungs under control.

George is part of a trial for a device that's already changing his life.  Doctors implanted a tiny sensor that measures pressure in the pulmonary artery, which carries blood from the heart to the lungs.

"If you were a really sick patient in a hospital, we'd be measuring that with tubes going into your lungs, but this device allows us to measure that in your home," said Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Nicholas Chronos.

George sends daily pressure readings to a central monitoring site.

"In the morning, I get up and go in and lay on the pillow and it takes a reading and transmits it over the internet to St. Joe's, and if there's a problem, they let me know," said George.

Chronos says the daily updates allow him to identify problems more quickly and keep patients out of the hospital.

"Before, we'd wait for George to get sick. He would turn up in an ER, get admitted, we have given the diuretic; but now we can phone him up everyday and tell him, 'Hey, you are doing very well. Just stay where you are,' or 'You need to take some more diuretic,'" said Chronos.

Just a couple minutes a day keeps George's heart in check and his mind at ease.

The remote sensor system sends information through phone lines and the internet.  Because of this, doctors say they're able to monitor a patient's condition almost anywhere.

The cario-mems trial is still recruiting heart failure patients.  For more information about the measurement system, click here.