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CardioMEMS™ Device for Monitoring Advanced Heart Failure: 5 Things to Know

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Posted by Val Rakita, MD

Heart failure is challenging for patients and their caregivers to live with, especially as it worsens. While heart failure can’t be cured in most people, there is some hopeful news: New technologies are allowing people with advanced heart failure to enjoy a better quality of life.

Heart failure is classified by how far the disease has progressed. By the time a person reaches advanced heart failure, everyday activities tend to cause fatigue and breathing troubles. As an advanced heart failure cardiologist, I work to help my patients function at their fullest potential and avoid being hospitalized.

Patients with heart failure often go to the hospital when they’re experiencing a noticeable increase in symptoms. Those changes are a sign that their heart has already sustained new or worsening damage.

Closely monitoring a patient’s heart function and addressing problems before they become more serious can help them stay out of the hospital and remain healthier for longer. That’s where the CardioMEMS™ Heart Failure (HF) System comes into play. This advanced tool enables clinicians to better monitor their patients, helping them to avoid worsening symptoms.

Here’s what I typically share with my patients who are candidates for the CardioMEMS device:

1. CardioMEMS looks for signs that heart failure is getting worse.

The device measures and records a patient’s pulmonary artery (PA) pressure. Changes in PA pressure can be a sign that heart failure is progressing, since more pressure in the lungs often signals that the heart is becoming weaker or pumping less effectively.

Research has shown CardioMEMS to be safe and effective in preventing hospitalizations for patients with late-stage heart failure. And it’s becoming more widely used in the U.S.: More than 20,000 patients received the device in 2020 alone.1

2. The system allows for at-home monitoring.

CardioMEMS is a remote monitoring system. It collects information about a patient’s pulmonary artery pressure each day at home. The information is then securely transmitted to the patient’s cardiologist, where it’s reviewed regularly.

I examine the data to look for signs that my patient’s symptoms may be worsening. This helps my colleagues and I treat potential problems sooner — before they require treatment in the hospital.

3. CardioMEMS reduces heart failure hospitalizations.

I tell my patients that we can’t always completely control how their heart failure progresses. But keeping a close eye on their heart’s function can help me change the direction of treatment — sometimes even before a patient notices new or worsening symptoms.

Closely monitoring changes in a patient’s PA pressure helps me understand whether their current therapy is working or if adjustments should be made. This early intervention strategy means that their symptoms are less likely to progress, minimizing their need to be treated at the hospital.

4. The sensor is implanted during a minimally invasive procedure.

The CardioMEMS HF System is a paperclip-sized sensor with a thin, curved wire at each end. A cardiologist implants the device in a patient’s pulmonary artery using a catheter, a small flexible tube inserted through the femoral vein located in their groin.

The procedure typically takes about 30 minutes, and the patient can be given a mild sedative beforehand, but remains awake.

Once they’re home, patients simply lie on a special pillow for a few minutes to take a daily PA pressure measurement from the sensor, and that measurement is sent directly to the cardiologist’s office.

5. CardioMEMS won’t get in the way of daily activities.

CardioMEMS is a wireless sensor that doesn’t require a battery. I tell my patients they won’t feel it while going about their day or while taking their PA pressure measurements. And the measurement process is quick and easy — it only takes a few minutes. Our advanced heart failure team teaches patients how to use the device to take readings from the sensor.

If I notice a concerning change in a patient’s pulmonary artery pressure, we notify them and adjust their treatment as necessary. Sometimes we need to schedule an in-office or telemedicine appointment.

The CardioMEMS HF System helps many of my patients with heart failure live longer, healthier lives. The reduced risk of hospitalization is a major benefit of the device, and one that my patients and their caregivers say is a game-changer.

Find relief from your heart failure symptoms

The CardioMEMS device is just one treatment available through Temple’s Advanced Heart Failure Program. Every day, our team of experts helps hundreds of patients with heart failure find relief from their symptoms and spend more quality time doing the things they enjoy most.

To schedule an appointment with a Temple heart failure specialist, call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) or request an appointment.

Val Rakita, MD

Dr. Rakita is a cardiologist who specializes in advanced heart failure. With clinical interests in mechanical circulatory support and heart transplantation, he is also Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. Dr. Rakita is a member of the Heart Failure Society of America and the American College of Cardiology.

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