LOS ANGELES — The CardioMEMS Heart Failure System, made by St. Jude Medical, is a tiny wireless sensor, powered by radiofrequency energy and implanted into the pulmonary artery (PA) with minimally invasive surgery. The sensor tracks PA pressure through short, daily readings that the patient conducts using a special pillow with an antenna. Physicians access the readings on a secure website. Clinical trials conducted prior to FDA approval demonstrated a 30 percent reduction in hospital readmissions.
David Shavelle, M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, recently implanted the device in a patient.
“This device is a game changer for heart failure patients,” said Shavelle. “Before this device, we made medication changes based upon a patient’s symptoms and changes in their weight. Changes in pressures within the heart often occur prior to the onset of a patient’s symptoms. The pivotal CHAMPION clinical study that evaluated the CardioMEMS device showed that medication changes based upon changes in pressures measured by the device reduced future hospitalizations. Now that we have access to pressure data in real time, this will allow us to respond and adjust treatment much faster. Responding faster will allow us to reduce future hospitalizations for heart failure.”
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association, killing more than 380,000 Americans every year. Cardiovascular diseases kill more Americans than all forms of cancer combined, with heart disease accounting for one in six deaths in the U.S.
Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood throughout the body. Causes include a past heart attack, high blood pressure, abnormal heart valves and diabetes. Those suffering from heart failure experience shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, increased heart rate and water retention leading to swelling of the abdomen, legs and feet and an inability to sleep lying flat due to fluid build-up in the lungs. Some patients can recover heart function and lead normal lives, some require transplants or an implanted ventricular assist device and some have limited physical function and require frequent hospitalizations. Typically, heart failure affects people age 65 or older, although it can strike at any age and sometimes during pregnancy in younger women.