A new generation of implantable cardiac devices with heart failure diagnostics are enabling Australian cardiologists to better predict the development of heart failure, potentially weeks before a possible life-threatening event.
New advanced heart failure algorithms in the latest generation of implantable cardiac defibrillators and Cardiac Resynchronisation devices, can reduce the risk of patients experiencing acute heart failure events requiring hospitalisation. This further demonstrates the benefits of the technology beyond its ability to treat deadly heart rhythms.
Brisbane-based Cardiac Electrophysiologist, Dr John Hayes from the Queensland Cardiovascular Group says these latest developments are saving lives, and improving the quality of life for patients with heart conditions.
“The beauty of this technology and sophisticated algorithms is that it’s now far more reliable, specific, and sensitive to help cardiologists make the slightest of changes in a patient’s medications,” Dr Hayes said.
“Once the device is linked to a patient’s monitor at home, it can detect potentially lethal irregularities in the patient’s heart rhythm and other clinical signs indicating that the patient may be entering a state of heart failure, and transmit this through to the physician. It can alert the cardiologist two to four weeks before the patient develops breathlessness, that they may be going into heart failure.”
Dr Hayes suggests that for people who live in regional and remote areas, far from medical facilities, this gives more peace of mind and reduces the number of hospital visits.
84 year old Arthur Pearson from Toowoomba, underwent a procedure for an implantable cardiac defibrillator.
“I was in the garden and told my wife I was having pain in the chest and felt short of breath. My heart was racing. I was taken to the Base Hospital and was later transferred by helicopter to Brisbane under the care of Dr Hayes. The following Tuesday, Dr Hayes put in a defibrillator and I was sent home the very next day with a home monitor,” he said.
“Dr Hayes told me that the bedside monitor would send information to their clinic where someone at the clinic would look at it. Dr Hayes told us it would help them keep an eye on things without having to come down to Brisbane so often. It was absolutely fantastic.”
Implantable defibrillators, including Cardiac Resynchronisation devices, paired with device-based heart failure diagnostics can help to help improve life expectancy, reduce heart failure symptoms and reduce hospitalisation when used in conjunction with optimal medical therapy.
“The development in this technology is remarkable. Recently we received an alert from the monitor of Arthur. It suggested he may be going into heart failure. We contacted Arthur and advised a medication change, which potentially prevented his admission to hospital. All the indices on the device returned to normal after the adjusted medications. Improvements in programming of the devices and adjustments to medications can certainly save lives,” Dr Hayes comments.
Arthur stated, “It is an excellent service, all of the information arrives before you see the Doctor. It really gives us peace of mind knowing that someone is watching over the time and can contact us when they need to, especially when I’ve had such a rickety heart over the last 30 years.”
Dr Hayes warns heart rhythm problems can strike any time with deadly consequences, and may not be detected if the correct diagnostic guidelines aren’t followed.
The National Heart Foundation of Australia and Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand has established guidelines for the prevention, detection and management of heart failure which medical professionals must follow when determining treatment options for a patient with heart failure symptoms.
Dr John Hayes commented “The guidelines, formulated on evidence-based research, allow health professionals to establish the appropriate medical therapy. The guidelines list a number of classes of medications, therapies and diuretics that can help with symptomatic control. If a patient’s symptoms do not improve, general practitioners will often refer patients to Electrophysiologist or Heart Failure specialists for consideration of Cardiac Resynchronisation therapy, or a review of management.”
The Australian Government spends around three billion dollars each year managing heart failure. Implantable cardiac devices with enhanced diagnostic features are shown to improve patient outcomes and reduce the need for hospital readmissions.