New wireless sensor allows doctors to monitor heart failure patients

New wireless sensor allows doctors to monitor heart failure patients

Bob Becker was only two years into his retirement when the problems began. Tasks like yard work, shoveling snow and riding his motorcycle became difficult.

“Takes me two days to do what I could get done in a day,” Becker said.

A month ago, his cardiologist Dr. John Michael Phelan told him about a new procedure at St. Mary’s Hospital that could make his hospital visits less frequent and help with his shortness of breath. Becker decided that any risk was worth giving it a try.

“That’s what their goal is, to keep me out of the hospital,” Becker said. “Keep me out of the hospital and let me live longer.”

CardioMEMs was developed by St. Jude Medical, and Becker is only the fourth patient at St. Mary’s to undergo the non-invasive procedure.

Within an hour, the coin-sized contraption is inserted through a person’s groin and implanted into the pulmonary artery. Once there, the device can monitor pressure in the lungs over the Internet.

Phelan said the procedure allows them to check up on patients with congestive heart failure who often have to be hospitalized for symptoms that are detected too late.

“This pressure sensor really is the earliest warning sign that something is going on with the patient, and it predates the onset of symptoms by a number of days,” Phelan said. “So it really lets us intervene earlier and more effectively to help the patients maintain their functionality and reduce visits with their doctor and the hospital.”

The hope is to also reduce the amount of money spent on medical care. Phelan said the CardioMEMs procedure and device cost about what a couple of hospital stays cost.

“It’s exciting for our patients,” Phelan said.

Becker is looking forward to breathing easier in the future. The CardioMEMs was successfully implanted Tuesday.

“If it works, I mean, they should do it,” Becker said about other people suffering with congestive heart failure.

According to the American Heart Association, about $31 billion was spent in connection with heart failure across the country. That number is expected to double by 2030.