Methodist Hospitals says new heart monitor prevents readmissions - February 25, 2015

Courtesy of NWI Times

February 25, 2015 12:00 am   •   Giles Bruce, (219) 853-2584

MERRILLVILLE | Ed Sperka has been in and out of the hospital the past few years, ever since he underwent open-heart surgery because of cardiac failure.

Then his cardiologist told him about a device, which Sperka had implanted earlier this month, that could monitor his heart function remotely, so doctors could preemptively treat him and save him a trip to the hospital.

“In Ed’s case, we’ve had to do that twice already,” said nurse practitioner Kathy Gjeldum. “We adjusted his meds and avoided a hospitalization. We’re very pleased with the early outcome.”

Sperka’s wife, Pat, said the device has already helped with her anxiety levels. “You don’t have to call every other day because you’re nervous about something,” she said.

Methodist Hospitals is the first facility in Northwest Indiana to begin implanting the CardioMEMS HF System, which recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The sensor, which is the size of a dime, is implanted into the patient’s pulmonary artery during a short outpatient procedure that doesn’t require anesthesia.

Each morning, the patient sits on a pillow containing an antenna that takes readings from monitor, which are sent to the doctor’s office. Medical staff looks for trends that might predict future symptoms. Increased pulmonary artery pressures can be an indicator of diminishing heart function.

Dr. Andre Artis, medical director of Methodist Hospitals’ Heart and Vascular Institute, said the use of the new implant is just another example of Methodist’s commitment to investing in the latest in cardiac care technology.

“We know that patients with congestive heart failure have a tendency to be readmitted to the hospital,” said Dr. Kais Yehyami, a cardiologist for Methodist Hospitals. “That means a lot of inconvenience for the patient and a lot of cost to the system.”

He noted that a clinical trial using the CardioMEMS device found it reduced heart failure hospitalizations by as much as 40 percent. The federal government is now penalizing hospitals that have too many patient readmissions.

David Frazier, of Merrillville, suffered a stroke in mid-2013 and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Last year, he was hospitalized six times after coming down with shortness of breath. He would go to the ER, use a ventilator and be put on medications to stabilize him.

Frazier is one of at least eight patients to receive the implant at Methodist Hospitals since it started offering the new technology earlier this month.

“The main problem was not knowing in advance,” said Frazier’s wife, Kathie. “With this monitoring, we should be able to see some of the internal things that are changing and capture that before he has to go into the hospital.”