Tiny sensor tracks hearts from home

September 8, 2010

Heart failure is a common occurrence. Every 34 seconds, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease. That's approximately 2,500 people a day. Healthcentral.com suggests approximately 550,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed each year.

Heart failure is the No. 1 reason why people are hospitalized each year, averaging approximately 1 million hospital stays every year. The costs for treatment and medications as well as doctor and hospital fees total over $27 billion a year.

With heart failure, the valves that allow blood to flow forward and backward fail and shut down.

PREVENTION: Experts say you should be mindful of signs and symptoms that could be hinting that you may have heart failure on the way.

Some warning signs include shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles, extreme fatigue, abnormal heartbeats, excessive weight gain, and change in urination (be wary if you start urinating more at night).

There is not one specific way to prevent heart failure; however, there are changes you can make in your daily life that could act as preventatives.

The first and most important is to make lifestyle changes. Some helpful suggestions are: don't smoke, lower your cholesterol, exercise, eat a healthy diet, and limit alcohol intake.

Furthermore, it is important to control your blood pressure as well as diabetes.

TRIAL FOR CHAMPIONS: A recent trial, called the CHAMPION Trial, tested 550 patients and searched for a way to prevent heart failure. Doctors used a catheter to implant a cardio MEMS sensor (microelectromechanical systems).

The MEMS sensor was 15 mm long and 3.5 mm wide, positioned near the pulmonary artery at right-heart catheterization. This sensor can detect any fluid buildup around the heart and surrounding arteries. Because fluid buildup is the most common cause of heart failure, this is a vital buildup to measure.

Each day, the patients laid on a mat that had special sensors. These sensors read the fluid levels that had built up around the implanted cardio MEMS sensor.

After the results were documented, doctors received updates regarding most recent fluid levels. If any fluid levels seemed concerning, doctors alerted the patient immediately, so they could control it with medication before it got worse.

Study results showed a 30-percent decrease in hospitalizations over a six-month trial period compared to that of standard everyday management. Also, none of the sensors ever need to be replaced or removed once implanted.


Doug Flowers, Media Relations
Ohio State University Medical Center
Columbus, OH
(614) 293-3737

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