North Texas

Device Sends Heart Rhythm Updates to Your Phone

New technology is helping patients track their heart health like never before.

The FDA approved an implantable device that sends updates about your heart right to your phone, and one North Texan says it's already changed her life.

Suzanne Hall, 71, a McKinney resident, was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation two years ago.

"I had been in the hospital three or four different times, thinking something was wrong with me, and they couldn't find anything," Hall said.

She eventually suffered cardiac arrest, which led to her diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes irregular heart rhythm.

Since symptoms of atrial fibrillation aren't always noticeable right away, Hall says she was excited to be the first patient in North Texas to receive the Confirm RX Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM), the only smartphone-compatible ICM designed to help physicians remotely identify cardiac arrhythmias.

The device received final FDA approval on Nov. 14.

"It's so much easier, and I feel so much better having it, because I know what is happening to my body and what isn't happening that I think may be happening," Hall said.

About the size of a paper clip, the monitor is implanted just under the skin of the chest during a quick, minimally invasive outpatient procedure.

The ICM continuously monitors heart rhythms to detect a range of cardiac arrhythmias, including irregular heartbeats or atrial fibrillation.

"It's not just for a-fib, but for anyone who is suspecting to have a-fib. So anyone who has palpitations, but you couldn't figure it out," said Dr. Dale Yoo, medical director of cardiac electrophysiology at Medical City McKinney.

Until now, patients would wear a Holter monitor for 24 hours or up to two weeks, an event monitor, or a cardiac telemetry monitor.

"The benefit of this implantable cardiac loop recorder is that it can correlate any symptoms a patient may have to their phone via Bluetooth, and we can see if they are having palpitations or any issue with the heart and are able to respond immediately instead of having to wait overnight for information to come in," Yoo said.

Another benefit to the device, Yoo says, is that it provides physicians with daily, real-time data over the course of two years, allowing them to refine and further personalize patient care.

"With constant monitoring we will be able to take patients that have a low risk of stroke off anticoagulants (blood thinners). We can place them back on the medications if the need arises," Yoo said.

Hall is already off her expensive blood thinners and takes only baby aspirin.

"I can watch it and I'll know if something is wrong," said Hall, who opens the app on her phone anytime she needs peace of mind about her heart.

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