NAPLES, Fla. — Heart failure is a condition in which your heart doesn’t pump enough blood to the rest of your body. If left untreated, heart failure is fatal. It is responsible for one in nine deaths in our country.
“If left untreated, it gets worse, and the prognosis isn’t very good,” said Dr. Viviana Navas, section chief for heart failure at the NCH Heart Institute.
Dr. Navas said that heart failure is a chronic progressive disease.
“Heart failure is defined as the heart unable to pump enough blood to the rest of the body, either because the heart muscle is weak or because it is stiff and cannot take in any more blood,” said Dr. Navas.
She said the most common symptom of heart failure is shortness of breath.
“It usually starts with their ability to walk a block ahead, and now half a block, and ‘I’m out of breath, I have to stop,'” Dr. Navas said. “Then you start having fluid retention. So they have lower extremity edema, which is swollen legs.”
Dr. Navas said heart failure can be treated and managed with medication.
“We also need to understand why you’re developing heart failure, make sure your coronary arteries are in good shape, make sure your valves are in good shape. There are a lot of different things that could cause heart failure on which we need to investigate,” she said. . “There are specific types of patients that we particularly struggle to keep at home, who are readmitted to hospital. They retain fluids very easily, it is difficult to balance their medications, where they stay at home. home feeling good.”
This is where a device new to NCH comes in. It’s called CardioMEMS.
“It really changes the way we manage heart failure, both for the patients and for us,” Dr. Navas said.
The device is the size of a paperclip. Doctors can monitor heart failure patients right from home using a pillow.
“It’s a very small device that we implant and leave in one of the pulmonary arteries. And that gives us numbers. The patient going home doesn’t really feel it or know it’s there,” Dr. Navas said.
She said it’s implanted through a right heart catheter.
“We go through the vein in the groin called the femoral vein. Then we go up to the heart in the pulmonary artery, and we use that to expand it there,” she said.
Dr. Navas said the implantation takes 30 to 45 minutes and the patient goes home the same day. Then, at least once a week, the patient will lie down on the pillow provided by his doctor to send digits.
“It looks like a normal pillow and it’s very easy for them. They settle down before they leave the hospital after their procedure, they take their pillow home, and then they lay there and we get the numbers,” says -she. “Even before the patient can tell that anything is changing, like worsening shortness of breath or anything like that, we are able to tell if the patient is starting to retain fluid, so we can act on it and prevent readmission, or prevent the patient from getting sicker.
Dr Navas said that in the past month, she and her team implanted the first CardioMEMS device at NCH, in a patient whose heart failure kept sending him to hospital.
“It’s a simple, very low-risk procedure,” she said. “And yes, since then he has not been admitted to hospital.”
Dr. Navas said she has an entire heart failure team dedicated to verifying CardioMEMS patient numbers. She also said that if a patient isn’t feeling well, they can call their doctor, then lie back on the pillow, and NCH Heart Institute staff can check the numbers immediately.