Catholic Medical Center (CMC) is the first in northern New England to implant a new miniaturized, wireless monitoring sensor to manage heart failure. The Manchester-based hospital’s New England Heart and Vascular Institute implanted two patients with sensors, called CardioMEMS HF Systems on March 5.
“This is a big breakthrough for class III heart failure patients. It’s a great opportunity for a large patient population,” said James Flynn, MD, FACC, interventional cardiologist, New England Heart and Vascular Institute.
The CardioMEMS HF System is the first and only FDA-approved heart failure monitoring device. It features a sensor that is implanted in the pulmonary artery to measure pressure.
“CardioMEMS is approved for patients recently hospitalized for treatment of symptomatic congestive heart failure and also exhibit symptoms of continued shortness of breath due to the disease,” said Robert Capodilupo, MD, FACC, director of the Heart Failure Program for New England Heart and Vascular Institute.
Increased pulmonary artery pressures appear before weight and blood pressure changes, which are often used as indirect measures of worsening heart failure. The new system allows patients to transmit daily sensor readings from their homes to their healthcare providers.
Figure 1: A miniaturized wireless sensor is implanted in the pulmonary artery
A person with congestive heart failure can have multiple hospital admissions in a year during which there is considerable discomfort. “Patients may have increased weight gain, swelling in legs, and increased shortness of breath. They can’t lie down. They have to prop themselves up at night,” said Flynn. “This helps us to treat them before they reach that extreme. Patients much prefer to be at home.”
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.
“The device has been shown in trials to significantly reduce the rate of re-hospitalization for congestive heart failure. Given the expanding population with the diagnosis of CHF, I imagine this device will be relatively widely used,” said Capodilupo.
Data from a clinical trial showed that the CardioMEMS technology reduces heart failure hospital admissions by up to 37 percent. 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.
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.
Figure 2: By lying on a pillow containing an antenna, patients take a daily reading that is electronically transmitted to their doctor
“I am very excited about offering this new technology to our patients in an effort to improve their quality of life and reduce their rate of re-hospitalization,” said Capodilupo.