Doctors say the CardioMEMS device is about to change a lot of lives. So far, at Hennepin County Medical Center, doctors have implanted the device in three patients. The fourth patient says she's ready to be "much better" and stop taking so many hospital visits.
On Thursday, Norma Young gave her pacemaker a little company after having the device implanted. The pulmonary pressure sensor looks somewhat like a fishing swivel, but for those with chronic heart failure, it could be a life changer.
"Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) is the first facility in the Twin Cities to implant a new miniaturized, wireless monitoring sensor to manage heart failure (HF). The CardioMEMS HF System is the first and only FDA-approved heart failure monitoring device that has been proven to significantly reduce hospital admissions when used by physicians in conjunction with standard treatments to manage heart failure," HCMC said in a press release.
It's important to know pressures are good inside a chronic heart failure patient. If they're not, breathing is difficult and it means an unexpected trip to the hospital or emergency room. The CardioMEMS has a tiny sensor that is permanently implanted in the pulmonary artery (PA) during a non-surgical procedure to directly measure PA pressure. Increased PA pressures appear before weight and blood pressure changes, which are often used as indirect measures of worsening heart failure, the release explained.
Since the CardioMEMS lasts forever, it's a one-time procedure. The doctor uses a delivery catheter which feeds and delivered the Cardiomems into Young's pulmonary artery.
The sensor can catch rising pulmonary pressure right when it starts. At home, Young will use a wand to tell the CardioMEMS device to read her pressures. That reading will be sent to her doctor using any mobile phone provider available. There's a window of time where pressures rise before the patient knows it, and if they do go up, the doctor can call and adjust a patient's medication without a trip to the hospital.
CardioMEMS is expected to reduce hospitalizations of chronic heart failure patients by 37 percent over 15 months. That's big deal for Young, who goes 5 times a year. The whole procedure took about 30 minutes, and doctors say it's actually pretty simple. HCMC expects to implant the device in about two patients per month.
Meanwhile, Young said she felt "excellent" after the procedure.
"I wish my mommy could have had this," she said.