New hope for heart failure patients at Essentia Health

Dr. Kimberly Boddicker. Submitted
By Maureen Talarico

Heart failure patients at Essentia Health have a new monitoring option that can help make their day-to-day lives much more convenient and also reduce potential hospital stays.

The Heart & Vascular Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth now offers a new microelectromechanical systems technology to detect changes in blood pressure. It’s called the Cardio MEMs HF System, and is a tiny wireless sensor implanted in the pulmonary artery.

“CardioMEMs is a permanent pressure sensor without batteries or replaceable parts and is the size of a large paperclip,” said Dr. Kimberly Boddicker, who is the director of the heart failure program at Essentia. “Pressures in the heart can rise several days to weeks before a patient experiences symptoms requiring hospitalization, so this allows us to be more proactive with treatment.”

The CardioMEMs sensor was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2013 and is implanted during a non-surgical procedure. It measures pressure changes within the pulmonary artery and also heart rate, then transmits the information straight to the Heart Center. Since January, three devices have been implanted in Essentia patients.

“Most of the patients we have discussed this with have been receptive,” said Dr. Boddicker. “We also have many patients who travel a distance for office visits, so now we can offer them a means to provide more timely care, and save on travel.”

Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands. Nearly 6 million adults in the United States suffer from the disease. Much of the cost of treating heart failure comes from patients having to spend time in the hospital. Clinical trials showed the CardioMEMs can cut re-admission to hospitals by about half.

“We have some patients with both heart and lung disease or heart and kidney disease who experience similar symptoms from both conditions. The CardioMEMs also helps decipher which disease is causing symptoms at any moment and allows us to be more focused with our treatment,” she added.

The CardioMEMs sensor is designed to last the lifetime of the patient. There is no pain or sensation for the patient during the readings. The device is covered by Medicare and insurance companies. For more information, please contact the Heart & Vascular Center at (218) 786-3443.