New implant device remotely monitors heart failure patients in Chicago

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Cardiologists at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago may be able to curtail hospital visits for some heart failure patients by using a new wireless pressure sensor technology to track the pulmonary artery pressure of at-home patients.

The implanted pressure sensor is about the size of a standard paperclip, and is implanted into the subject's pulmonary artery through a catheter-based procedure from the groin region, according to the researchers. The technology, which allows for subjects to get readings remotely is a proprietary electronic monitoring system, that works when they lie on a pillow containing an antenna that interacts with the implanted device to get readings on heart and lung pressures.

“At any time, such as when the subject is beginning to feel poorly, we immediately get readings of pulmonary pressure. We are hopeful we can avoid a hospitalization by adjusting the subject's medication based on the pressure recording. As we evaluate the CardioMEMS Wireless Pressure Monitoring System, we see great potential to increase convenience to patients and hospital efficiency by cutting back on frequent trips to the emergency room,” said John B. O'Connell, MD, director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute’s Center for Heart Failure and professor of medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, both in Chicago.

The Northwestern researchers have implanted three subjects to date and seven more are planned as part of the CHAMPION (CardioMEMS Heart Sensor Allows Monitoring of Pressure to Improve Outcomes in NYHA Class III Patients) clinical study.

With the system, the investigators said the pressure data is transmitted to a secure database that makes the data available to physicians from a proprietary website. Data can be made available to physicians on a handheld device, like a BlackBerry.