Community Healthcare System Hospitals Taking Lead in Monitoring Heart Failure Patients

CardioMEMS monitoring sensorHeart failure patients are staying away from the hospital longer and enjoying a better quality of life thanks to a new FDA-approved monitoring device. St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart are among the first hospitals in Northwest Indiana to provide patients with The CardioMEMS™ HF System, a new miniaturized, wireless monitoring sensor that manages heart failure and significantly reduces hospital admissions.

“Before MEMS, heart failure management has relied on patients reporting symptoms after their heart failure has significantly worsened,” said P. Ramon Llobet, MD, interventional cardiologist on staff at St. Catherine Hospital. “The new system allows physicians to be more proactive in the treatment of heart failure.”

The system includes an implantable pulmonary artery sensor, a delivery system and Patient Electronics System. The sensor is implanted in the pulmonary artery during a non-surgical procedure to directly measure inside pressure. Increased pulmonary artery pressures appear before weight and blood pressure changes which are often used as indirect measures of a downturn in heart failure.

Patients take a daily reading from home or other non-clinical locations using the Patient Electronics System which sends the information to the doctor. After analyzing the information, the doctor may make medication changes to help treat the patient’s heart failure and reduce the likelihood of hospitalization.

The Patient Electronic System consists of an electronics unit and pillow with a built in antenna that can be used at home, work, travel or other locations. Once each day, the patient lies on the pillow and the antenna wirelessly gathers and transmits information to a secure website which a practitioner looks for warning trends. This report helps reduce hospitalizations for those with congestive heart failure.

CardioMEMS HF System allows patients to transmit critical information about their heart failure status to a clinician on a regular basis, without the need for additional clinic or hospital visits. This provides clinicians with the ability to detect worsening heart failure sooner and adjust treatment to reduce the likelihood that the patient will need to be hospitalized.

"CardioMems is a new technology that has been a game changer for the management of advanced chronic congestive heart failure patients,” said Kais Yehyawi, MD, cardiologist/interventional cardiologist on staff at St. Mary Medical Center. “It helps to decrease, if not altogether avoid, patient hospitalization by catching any issues before they occur. It does so by picking up early warning signs days before the patient could potentially feel any symptoms, and the device wirelessly alerts the physician. Ultimately, it allows the cardiologist to manage the patient in an efficient fashion that is tailored to each specific patient's needs. "

The CardioMEMS sensor is designed to last the lifetime of the patient and doesn’t require batteries. Once implanted, the wireless sensor sends pressure readings to an external patient electronic system. There is no pain or sensation for the patient during the readings.

Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5.1 million Americans have heart failure, with 670,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Patients with heart failure are frequently hospitalized, have a reduced quality of life and face a higher risk of death.

“With this new advanced technology, our cardiologists and their supportive team of professionals can identify and assist patients earlier, and in some cases, avoid hospitalization,” said Janice Ryba, CEO of St. Mary Medical Center. “The result - positive outcomes and a better quality of life for our heart failure patients.”

Data from a clinical trial showed that the CardioMEMS technology reduces heart failure hospital admissions by up to 37 percent. The CHAMPION trial studied the effectiveness of the CardioMEMS HF System in New York Heart Association (NYHA) Functional Classification System class III heart failure patients who had been hospitalized for heart failure in the previous 12 months. Results of the trial demonstrated a statistically significant 28 percent reduction in the rate of heart failure hospitalizations at six months, and 37 percent reduction in heart failure hospitalizations during an average follow-up duration of 15 months.

“St. Catherine Hospital continues to look at new ways of treating heart failure and helping to improve patient care with innovative technological advances,” said Craig Bolda, chief operating officer.

Roughly 1.4 million patients in the U.S. have NYHA Class III heart failure, and historically these patients account for nearly half of all heart failure hospitalizations. According to the American Heart Association, the estimated direct and indirect cost of heart failure in the U.S. for 2012 was $31 billion and that number is expected to more than double by 2030.