OGDEN — Researchers have developed an implantable device that will help heart failure patients adjust medication and diet on the fly to suit their condition.
McKay-Dee Hospital is one of a handful of sites to participate in a national clinical trial for the promising new treatment. The Left Atrial Pressure Monitoring to Optimize Heart Failure Therapy (LAPTOP-HF) helps doctors prevent rises and falls in left atrial pressure by carefully monitoring the slightest changes in the heart so they can quickly adjust a patient’s medication. The hope is to ward off congestive heart failure symptoms before they cause significant damage.
“Doctors typically use symptoms such as shortness of breath or leg swelling to gauge the severity of heart failure,” said Dr. Michael Eifling, an electrophysiologist at McKay-Dee Hospital. “However, the pressures within the heart typically rise two weeks before symptoms appear.”
The device, he said, measures pressure within the heart and the information can be downloaded to your doctor. This allows the doctor to fine tune medications before symptoms appear and may prevent the need for hospitalization.
“This is similar to how diabetics monitor their blood sugar and then adjust the dose of insulin,” Eifling said.
The monitoring system includes a small, pacemaker-sized, stand-alone implantable monitoring device. The patient, using a portable, wireless, handheld device, is directed to take specific medicines or make lifestyle adjustments based on the LAP measurement. A software system provides patients twice-daily feedback on their therapies, based on physician-prescribed treatment parameters.
More than 6 million people in the United States have chronic heart failure, a condition which occurs when the heart can pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands only by elevating pressures within the heart, said Dr. Jerry M. John, a heart failure cardiologist at McKay-Dee Hospital.
Common causes of heart failure include heart attack, high blood pressure, heart valve disease and cardiomyopathy. Symptoms include a decreased ability to do daily activities, such as walking, vacuuming or yard work, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest discomfort, leg swelling and difficulty breathing at night.
Both physicians said the key to managing heart failure is diagnosing it early and managing conditions that may also be a factor.
“Many patients with heart failure feel poorly and often require admission to the hospital to adjust medications. This new technology may change the way doctors manage heart failure by detecting pressure changes in the heart before you develop symptoms or require hospitalization,” Eifling said.
The trial, which lasts five years will be studied by a data safety monitoring board, said John.
If interested in participating, contact Eifling or John at 801-387-3850. Patients with severe heart valve, lung, liver or kidney disease are not eligible to participate in the trial.