On Friday, Oct. 30, 2015, Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk, Va., became the first healthcare center in Southeastern Virginia to implant a new, miniaturized, wireless monitor in a patient to manage heart failure, a condition affecting 5.1 million Americans.

Sentara Heart Hospital offers new wireless heart monitor

Cardiomems Monitoring Sensor

On Friday, Oct. 30, 2015, Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk, Va., became the first healthcare center in Southeastern Virginia to implant a new, miniaturized, wireless monitor in a patient to manage heart failure, a condition affecting 5.1 million Americans.

Called the CardioMEMS HF System, the monitor is the first and only FDA-approved, proactive heart failure detection device.

"We are thrilled to offer this option to our heart failure patients who meet the criteria," says Dr. Allen Ciuffo, a cardiologist with Sentara Cardiology Specialists at Sentara Heart Hospital. "Patients can now learn that their heart failure may be worsening before they experience symptoms. We have more time to alter their treatment and avoid a hospital stay."

The CardioMEMS HF System is a dime-size, battery-free sensor that a physician implants into a patient’s pulmonary artery during a non-surgical, 15-minute procedure. Physicians can perform the implantation in outpatient and inpatient settings. The CardioMEMS measures pulmonary pressures, which increases before a person might experience other heart failure symptoms, such as weight gain, fatigue, shortness or breath and blood pressure changes.

“We can possibly see warning signs of heart failure 30 to 45 days earlier with the CardioMEMS,” explains Dr. Ciuffo.

After the CardioMEMS is implanted, a patient takes daily pressure readings at home. The patient does not experience any sensations from the monitor or the reading. All that the patient needs is a place to lie flat on a pillow, a small machine and a few minutes. Readings are transmitted  to the healthcare provider. Although the patient might feel well, his PA pressure could be increasing which could lead to the heart failure. The healthcare provider can identify the increase and take immediate action to alter treatment.  

Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands. Patients with heart failure are frequently hospitalized, have a reduced quality of life and face a higher risk of death.

A clinical trial showed that the CardioMEMS monitor reduces heart failure hospital admissions by up to 37 percent, which can improve patients’ lives and reduce costs, an extra concern for patients. According to the American Heart Association, the estimated direct and indirect cost of heart failure in the United States for 2012 was $31 billion. They expect the cost to more than double by 2030.  

“Sentara Heart is committed to improving patient care and investing in innovative medical technology such as the CardioMEMS HF System,” says Ken Armstrong, divisional senior vice president, cardiac service line. “It helps our patients receive targeted heart care earlier at home and in a doctor’s office, with the hope that they will avoid a potentially long and costly hospital stay.”