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Device detects possible heart failure before it happens

Device detects possible heart failure before it happens

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Dec. 24, 2012 at 8:19 a.m.



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OGDEN — Doctors in Ogden are taking part in what could be a very promising study in preventing heart failure.

Cardiologists say 6 million Americans suffer through symptoms of heart failure. Dr. Jerry John, director of the McKay Dee Hospital Heart Failure Clinic, says one out of four people are readmitted within a month. But, doctors from all over the world, including Ogden, are testing a device that reportedly can spot possible symptoms of heart failure before they happen.

"It's essentially the same size as an iPhone," he explained. "It's a device that [has a] radio frequency. It's external and the implanted device has no batteries. It's just a wire."

John said symptoms of heart failure don't just pop up suddenly. Problems can be forming for a couple of weeks before the patient notices something is wrong. But, the sensor in this device reportedly can read the symptoms.

Chronic heart failure signs and symptoms
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea) when you exert yourself or when you lie down
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Swelling (edema) in your legs, ankles and feet
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm
  • Swelling of your abdomen
  • Sudden weight gain from fluid retention
  • Lack of appetite and nausea
  • Difficulty concentrating

Source: Mayo Clinic

"You can get the patient's pressure from inside the heart, and use that to try to better treat the patient," John said.

The machine collects the data then sends it to the doctor over the Internet. In essence, the doctor may know about a problem before the patient does.

"The patient and the doctor get that information and then decide what to do with it," John said. "They could change meds ahead of time, in terms of water pills or other heart medicine that can, for lack of a better word, 'nip' the ER admission in the bud."

The device has gone through a couple of different levels of testing and John says the results, so far, are promising. But the study is far from over.

Right now, 270 people have been fitted with the device, including six in Utah, but researchers are hoping to have 700 people involved in the study. The Data Safety Board will look over how well the device works in February.

John said the study may continue for a year or two.

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Paul Nelson

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