Heart sen­sor game changer for pa­tients

The Prince George Citizen - - News -

A tiny wire­less sen­sor is giv­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar sur­geons in Cal­gary a heads up in the on­go­ing care of pa­tients who have suf­fered heart fail­ure.

The Car­dioMEMS de­vice is just 15 mil­lime­tres long and is im­planted in the pul­monary artery.

It mea­sures lung pres­sure, a key marker of a pa­tient’s heart health, and physi­cians re­ceive daily re­ports which al­low them to de­tect prob­lems early.

School­teacher Michelle Kotelko, 35, was born with a rare heart de­fect and last Septem­ber was the first pa­tient to have the sen­sor im­planted.

“I couldn’t even walk from my class­room to the car af­ter a day’s work or around the block with my fam­ily without be­ing short of breath and in phys­i­cal agony,” she said Mon­day.

Kotelko said she was di­ag­nosed with heart fail­ure and was po­ten­tially look­ing at a heart and lung trans­plant when her doc­tor asked her if she’d like to be the first pa­tient in Western Canada to re­ceive the sen­sor.

“I was sold. I thought any­thing is bet­ter than what I’m liv­ing with right now. It has re­ally taken the guess­work out of that catand-mouse game of try­ing to catch up to my symp­toms.”

Kotelko has to lie down every day for 10 to 15 sec­onds on a spe­cial pil­low that al­lows the de­vice in her heart to send data to her physi­cian.

A trans­plant is still a pos­si­bil­ity, she said, but her con­di­tion has im­proved. She’s at the point where she has been able to re­sume a nor­mal life which in­cludes bike-rid­ing and kayak­ing.

“Ba­si­cally we have been able to use med­i­ca­tion ther­apy... to get my pres­sure so low that when the time comes, if I do need any type of trans­plant operation, it will be heart only (not lungs),” said Kotelko.

She said her pain went away within a week of hav­ing the sen­sor in­serted due to changes her doc­tor made in her treat­ment based on readings from the sen­sor.

Her physi­cian, Dr. Brian Clarke from Foothills Med­i­cal Cen­tre and the Libin Car­dio­vas­cu­lar In­sti­tute of Al­berta are con­duct­ing the clin­i­cal pi­lot pro­gram that runs un­til early next year.

“(The sen­sor) sits there for­ever and the pa­tient then takes home (the pil­low) and sends us in­for­ma­tion every day,” Clarke said. “That plots trends of the heart and lung pres­sures that we make ac­tion­able. We use that in­for­ma­tion to... find the best treatments.”

Clarke said the sen­sor re­duces the amount of time a heart pa­tient has to spend in hos­pi­tal and is likely to save lives.

“We’re ac­tu­ally able to iden­tify – be­fore the pa­tient even feels any­thing – when they are start­ing to re­tain fluid, when they are start­ing to de­te­ri­o­rate, be­fore they de­velop symp­toms. That early in­ter­ven­tion is where the clin­i­cal ben­e­fit comes from.”

Clarke said the pro­ce­dure was de­vel­oped in the United States and has been in use there for the last six or seven years.

CP PHOTO/ LIBIN CAR­DIO­VAS­CU­LAR IN­STI­TUTE OF AL­BERTA

A Car­dioMEMS de­vice is seen in this un­dated handout photo pro­vided Mon­day.

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