The device Dr. Sauer was referring to is the CardioMEMS™ HF System – an implantable wireless sensor no bigger than a dime that monitors pulmonary artery pressure and heart rate in heart failure patients. The device instantly transmits reports to the patient's care team, allowing them to adjust medications as needed and monitor heart function remotely.
"It's like a pressure gauge," Dr. Sauer explains. "You can essentially forecast when someone's about to have symptoms of heart failure by watching the trends. Generally, if you're checking it twice a week, you can prevent hospitalizations of heart failure."
The CardioMEMS heart failure device was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May 2014, and The University of Kansas Health System was among the first in the region to adopt the new technology. Now, the health system has the longest track record of using CardioMEMS in the Kansas City metro area. A dedicated team that includes nurse practitioners, physician assistants and heart failure nurses monitors the readings on a regular basis.
"We started using the device almost immediately after it was approved," Dr. Sauer says. "We've now done 15 or more of these cases, and we've been able to see the technology is very safe."
Charlie received the CardioMEMS device in January 2016. The procedure was minimally invasive and allowed him to go home the same day. Since the device was implanted, Charlie has not been hospitalized.
"This really is a game changer for him," Dr. Sauer says. "He was in the hospital 3-4 times a year for the last 2 years. It's been 6 months since the device was implanted, and that's the longest he's been able to stay out of the hospital."