Heart failure patients in Virginia Beach can now be implanted with a wireless heart monitoring device, the CardioMEMS HF System, without having to travel outside of their community.

New Heart Monitoring Technology Available at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital

Well-known Business Owner First Patient at SVBGH

Image Alan Stein Photo Image Alan Stein Photo Image Alan Stein Photo

Heart failure patients in Virginia Beach can now be implanted with a wireless heart monitoring device called the CardioMEMS HF (heart failure) System without having to travel outside of their community. Once implanted, the device monitors a patient’s pulmonary artery pressure and can detect worsening heart failure before it is noticed through symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath.   

Alan Stein of “Famous Uncle Al’s Hot Dogs & Fries” was Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital’s (SVBGH) first patient to be implanted. He was so looking forward to this new technology available to him that he insisted on being first in line. Doctors and nurses at SVBGH created and signed a poster for him with a “Number 1” foam finger, which Stein says he will proudly display at his restaurant in Virginia Beach. Stein has had heart problems for the past few years that have required several operations to insert stints and a pacemaker. The CardioMEMS device will help monitor his health without him having to be readmitted to the hospital.

Stein says he is expecting his first great-grandchild later this year and the CardioMEMS technology will help him ensure he’s healthy enough to enjoy his growing family.

Procuring the CardioMEMS technology and monitoring service at SVBGH is bringing a better quality of care to patients, no matter where they are. Previously, a patient would have to travel to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for the procedure and additional follow up care.

Implanting the CardioMEMS device is a fairly simple procedure that usually takes less than 30 minutes, with few risks involved. What’s challenging for many hospitals, and why SVBGH is only the second Sentara hospital to do this, is the monitoring process that follows for each individual patient. After the device is implanted, hospital staff are responsible for routinely checking the patient’s pulmonary artery pressure and taking action if there are signs of unusual behavior that could indicate worsening heart failure. If so, the patient and cardiologist are notified and begin tailoring the patient’s treatment plan.

Nearly six million Americans have heart failure and 900,000 new patients are diagnosed each year, according to the American Heart Association. Patients with heart failure are frequently hospitalized, have a reduced quality of life and a higher risk of death. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says half of heart failure patients die within five years of diagnosis. The CardioMEMS technology helps to reduces heart failure hospital readmissions and improves a patient’s quality of care while at home.

Nine patients in Virginia Beach have been implanted with the CardioMEMS device in July, and many others qualify and are interested.