The cardiac care team at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center is one of the first in the Pacific Northwest to begin use of a tiny new device called CardioMEMS to protect patients battling heart failure. Heart failure is a widespread chronic condition afflicting nearly six million Americans. It is a contributing cause in one of every eight deaths.
This innovative micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) uses a tiny sensor placed permanently in the patient’s blood vessel between the heart and lungs to transmit blood pressure readings directly to the doctor. The readings are a great help in determining quickly whether the patient has excess fluid, and can guide treatment.
As a cardiologist I am very excited to begin using this device, which is an exciting step forward in the care we can provide. Current practice involves the use of daily weights, asking patients about symptoms and examining patients to estimate blood volume and pressure inside the heart. This new CardioMEMS system will allow us to see very accurately what is going on and adjust treatments rapidly. Because heart failure is commonly a cause of frequent hospital visits, the use of CardioMEMS can improve the patient’s quality of life by helping them avoid unexpected worsening of their health.
In addition to its increased accuracy, MEMS will also give the physician real-time data, and much more frequently. The CardioMEMS system allows the patient to simply turn on a small transmission device in their home, and then lie down in their own bed on a special pillow that contains an antenna. The MEMS sensor is placed inside a small capsule, doesn’t require batteries and is designed to last the lifetime of the patient. The implanted sensor takes the measurements and transmits them through the pillow and on to the physician. The secure information is then available on the clinic computer or smartphone. It’s just that simple!
Placement of the sensor requires an outpatient, minimally invasive procedure, and that there is no discomfort when the system obtains and transmits their daily pressure readings. The MEMS system is currently approved for heart failure patients who exhibit significant limitation of physical activity and who have had hospitalizations in the last year.
Our PeaceHealth cardiac team believes the new CardioMEMS device can be a great benefit for patients battling heart failure, with the potential to significantly reduce our community’s rate of heart failure hospitalizations.
Joshua Grant, DO, is a cardiologist at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver. The Heart & Vascular Cardiology Department can be reached at 360-514-4444.