An Innovative Way of Monitoring Heart Failure
Heart failure is a serious condition that’s somewhat common in the United States. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 5.7 million American adults have heart failure, and one in nine deaths include heart failure as a contributing factor.
The rise in heart failure diagnoses has coincided with the obesity epidemic. The two most significant causes of obesity—eating an unhealthy diet and not getting enough physical activity—are risk factors for heart failure. Other risk factors include:
- Having high blood pressure
- Having coronary heart disease or heart attacks
- Having diabetes
Those with heart failure typically develop a variety of symptoms that worsen as the condition progresses.
How Heart Failure Is Treated
Because heart failure is typically caused by damage to the heart that has occurred over time, it can’t be cured. But there are treatment options that can help improve symptoms and quality of life.
Once a patient is diagnosed with heart failure, his or her physician will determine a treatment plan that may include lifestyle changes, medications, surgical procedures, implanted devices and regular, ongoing checkups.
Regardless of the type of treatment they receive, those with heart failure require careful monitoring. Patients and caregivers must keep careful track of new or suddenly worsening symptoms, including rapid weight gain, increased swelling in the lower extremities or increased fatigue.
Weight gain is a particularly key symptom, which can indicate that the body is starting to retain more fluid. Because of this, heart failure patients are typically told to weigh themselves every day.
A More Precise Way of Monitoring
While careful self-monitoring and reporting are critical to managing heart failure, a new advancement may revolutionize the way patients are monitored in the future.
A patient with a CardioMEMS implant takes daily readings from home using a Patient Electronics System. Information from those readings is transmitted directly to the patient’s physician. Using that information, the physician can make any necessary adjustments to the patient’s treatment regimen, including medication dosages.
Who’s a Candidate?
CardioMEMS is appropriate for patients whose physical activity is limited due to their heart failure condition and who have been hospitalized for heart failure in the past year.
Patients with less severe or more severe heart failure aren’t considered candidates for CardioMEMS implantation. In addition, those with certain medical conditions, clotting disorders, an inability to take anticoagulants such as aspirin, or an inability to tolerate heart catheterization also aren’t appropriate candidates.
Those who do receive CardioMEMS sensors benefit significantly—an innovation others will hopefully benefit from in the future.
We’re committed to advancing medical care. Northeast Georgia Medical Center was one of the research study centers involved in the evaluation of the CardioMEMs device leading to FDA approval.
For more information or to obtain a referral for the Heart Failure Program at NGMC, schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at The Heart Center of NGMC by calling 770-534-2020 or visiting heartngmc.org/appointment.