ó It used to be that Susan Beck had to go see her doctor to
get a check on her heart failure symptoms.
Ray Benza can check on her condition everyday, without Beck
leaving her Ingram, Pa., home.
implanted in Beckís pulmonary artery generates data about
arterial pressure levels, a key indicator of whether her heart
failure is worsening, and transmits the information for the
takes less than five minutes," said Beck, 58, a former
lab worker who is one of 20 patients to be enrolled in a new,
federally supported clinical trial at Allegheny Health Network
focusing on the remote monitoring of right-sided heart failure
caused by pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Benza ó director of the networkís advanced heart failure,
transplantation, mechanical circulatory support and pulmonary
hypertension program ó said the goal is to help patients
better manage heart failure so their health doesnít
deteriorate and they donít require costly hospital stays.
arterial hypertension is a severe narrowing of the arteries
that carry blood from the right side of the heart to the lung.
This leads to right-sided heart failure and death. Heart
failure is the inability to pump as much blood as the body
needs and, depending on contributing factors, can be
right-sided, left-sided or both.
remote monitoring, Dr. Benza said, he can make medication
changes before patients know their condition, often
characterized by fluid buildup in the lungs and shortness of
breath, is worsening.
lung is such a tremendous reservoir that it can hold a lot of
fluid before the patient becomes symptomatic," he said.
sensor system, known as CardioMEMS and made by St. Jude
Medical of St. Paul, Minn., previously was evaluated in a
study of 550 patients with various types of heart failure.
That study involved researchers, including Dr. Benza, from 63
institutions. The study found that the device helped to reduce
the risk of a heart failure-related hospitalization by as much
as 37 percent.
Bungard, 64, of Harrison, Pa., participated in that study and
still has the sensor, which continues to transmit a daily
pressure reading for Dr. Benza to review.
itís too high, heíll call me and heíll adjust my
medication," said Bungard, 64, a retired nurse.
who has had heart failure for eight or nine years, said she
believes the sensor, implanted about six years ago, has been
effective. She said sheís been hospitalized only a couple of
times since getting the sensor, compared to more frequent
hospitalizations in the years before that.
current, smaller trial involves only patients who have
pulmonary hypertension and right-sided heart failure. Beck
received the sensor Aug. 27 during a cardiac catheterization.
morning, Beck lies on a special pillow. An antenna in the
pillow enables the sensor to transmit arterial pressure data
to Dr. Benza.
monitoring can prevent future hospital stays, "thatís
great," Beck said. But she also hopes the sensor will
minimize the future need for invasive and costly cardiac
catheterizations, a procedure often used to assess people with
ago, Beck went to the hospital with fatigue and severe
shortness of breath. But with medication, she said, sheís
noticed a world of difference.
ill, and I know Iím ill, but I donít feel ill," she