New medical technology allows cardiologists to treat remotely

Laura Garcia By Laura Garcia

Aug. 3, 2017 at 10:06 p.m.
Updated Aug. 4, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Cecilia Edwards, 88, speaks with her sister, Marjorie Jolly, 81, at Brookdale Victoria Assisted Living. In June, Edwards had a  miniature heart sensor implanted in her pulmonary artery.

Cecilia Edwards, 88, speaks with her sister, Marjorie Jolly, 81, at Brookdale Victoria Assisted Living. In June, Edwards had a miniature heart sensor implanted in her pulmonary artery.   Angela Piazza for The Victoria Advocate

Cecilia Edwards, 88, was hospitalized for heart failure at least four times in May.

She was used to feeling the fluid build up in her lungs to the point where it was hard to breathe and the discomfort of her legs swelling.

But because of the implantation of a miniature heart sensor, her health has significantly improved.

Heart failure is a serious condition that occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.

In June, her cardiologist implanted a pressure-sensing device the size of a paper clip within her pulmonary artery.

This sensor can wirelessly send information to her doctor, who can adjust medication as needed before she ever starts to feel symptoms.

Dr. Harish Chandna performed the area's first heart failure monitoring device implantation at DeTar Hospital Navarro in February.

Chandna traveled to San Diego to learn more about the device - the CardioMEMS HF System - and has since performed the implantation on three patients in Victoria.

The patient sits back against a special pillow once a day so readings can be transmitted to a team of specialists.

"It basically measures the fluid levels in the body," Chandna said.

The sensor is designed to last a lifetime and does not require batteries.

The CardioMEMS HF System is the first monitor approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that, when used by physicians to manage heart failure, has been shown to significantly reduce hospital admissions.

Chandna said not one of his patients has been rehospitalized since implantation.

"It's a great value to the patient," he said. "They are having a greater quality of life."

Chandna said patients diagnosed with Class III heart failure who have had multiple hospitalizations within a 12-month period are key candidates for the procedure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5.7 million Americans have heart failure, and this condition costs the nation an estimated $30.7 billion each year.

Marjorie Jolly said she sees a big difference in how her younger sister feels.

"She's been active all her life; you don't slow her down," she said.

Edwards lives at Brookdale Victoria Assisted Living and is back to crocheting constantly, beating her neighbors at dominoes and wanting to return to square dancing.

Health and Wellness Director Jamie Puente often helps Edwards transmit the pressure readings - a process that takes maybe 20 seconds.

Puente said she hopes the technology will prevent trips to the hospital.

Edwards said she feels a lot better and that she doesn't remember feeling any pain during the procedure.

"If anybody needs a (procedure) like that, go ahead and have it because I feel wonderful," she said. "I don't even feel like arguing."


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