Six million adult Americans have heart failure: a condition where the heart can't circulate blood as well as it should. For some patients, an implantable device has been an option for doctors to keep a close eye on the pressures inside a patient's heart. And new research shows the system is saving lives and millions of dollars in healthcare costs.
Dorris Jenkins has been living with heart failure for the past two years.
"It's like your heart is going like this, and you can't breathe," said Jenkins.
Jenkins spent a full month in the hospital. Then for the next year, she was readmitted almost every two weeks.
Dr. Sumeet Mitter, Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York felt Jenkins would be a good candidate for cardioMEMS. Doctors thread a catheter through a leg vein and deploy the device near the heart. Every morning, patients lie on a special pillow like this which transmits the readings to their cardiologist's smart phone.
"If she's having a bad day I can log in and see, hey are her pressures going up," said Mitter.
That way, Mitter can adjust her medication immediately. Jenkins says the monitoring system also discourages her from eating salty foods.
"He said, 'you know Ms. Jenkins if you eat a bag of potato chips today, I'll know tomorrow' and I said, 'yeah right!' Sure enough. You eat a bag of potato chips today he will know in the morning," Jenkins explained.
Researchers studied 1,200 Medicare patients, and found a 58 percent reduction in hospitalizations one year after implant, and a reduction in costs of more than $13,000 per patient. Doctors say the monitoring system has kept Jenkins on track.
"Since February 2018 after the implant she has not been admitted to the hospital once," Mitter said.
The results of an FDA post-approval study presented at the American College of Cardiology sessions in March showed that patients were almost 100 percent free from complications related to the device. The device was first FDA-approved in May 2014. Researchers say obese patients, and those who live far from a hospital would also be likely to benefit from the implant.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Kirk Manson, Videographer.