Heart implant sensor

February 9, 2008 9:21:23 AM PST
Doctors at WakeMed in Raleigh are taking part in a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of a wireless pressure sensor for heart failure patients.

Barbara Parker the patient having the sensor implanted for the study. She hopes it helps cut down on her frequent hospital admissions.

"Whenever I have an attack, they bring me in they draw my blood they measure it and let me know what to take and what not to take as far as medicine is concerned," said Parker.

Parker's cardiologist, Dr. Ravish Sachar of Wake Heart and Vascular Associates, is implanting the sensor into her heart. It will allow him to see a daily reading of her pulmonary artery pressure measurements so he can adjust her medication without even seeing her in the office.

Sachar explains how the device was developed saying, "It's technology they initially found in jets in the engines of jets in order to measure pressure in the engines."

The CardioMems HF Pressure Measurement System uses technology of a wireless pressure sensor. The sensor is as big as a paperclip and is implanted into a patients pulmonary artery using a catheter.

Once the sensor is in, patients like Barbara Parker lay on a radio frequency pillow once a day at home. The pillow uses wireless technology to collect pulmonary artery pressure measurements sending the information to a database and the doctor.

"We can get her blood pressure. We can get her pulse rate. We can get her cardio output. Those are all parameters we use to manage patients with heart failure," said Sachar.

The sensor would allow doctors to detect a problem based on changes in pulmonary pressure before a patient even feels symptoms.

"If we find the pressure is starting to go up, we can call [the patient] and proactively give them a diuretic to get the fluid out of their system, " said Sachar. "If the numbers remain normal then we don't have to do anything."

Sachar believes if the sensor is FDA approved, it could potentially cut down on admissions for heart failure patients like Barbara Parker because she can still be monitored at home.

Parker agrees, saying, "I think its gonna be a great big help."


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