Features August 2016 Issue

New Cellular Device Improves Data Collection from Pacemakers, ICDs

The CardioMessenger Smart helps reduce dependency on landlines to relay information from implanted cardiac devices to medical providers.

If you have a pacemaker, implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), or similar cardiac device in your chest, it’s important that your doctor keep tabs on how the technology is functioning. Is the ICD administering life-saving shocks at the right time? Is the pacemaker keeping your heartbeat steady? Are there signs that the battery is running low or are other problems developing?

Biotronik

Reports from ICD monitoring give doctors info about device function and your heart health.

In the past, this important information could be obtained only during a visit to the doctor. Later, technology allowed for home telephones to transmit device activity and information to the doctor’s office. But a landline was always needed for this type of home monitoring. The equipment was also bulky and not especially user-friendly.

Recent advances in cellular technology are making things easier for device patients, and are allowing physicians to gather even more detailed data from the devices.

Most recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Biotronik’s CardioMessenger Smart device, a cellular transmitter about the size of a smartphone. It can send daily reports to your doctor.

“The clinical and economic benefits of remote monitoring have been well established over a decade of clinical studies,” says Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Niraj Varma, MD. “But these benefits are only realized if patients consistently use the technology. When we make the remote monitoring process easy for patients, we increase the likelihood of patient adherence, which has been demonstrated to improve health outcomes.”

Dr. Varma was the lead investigator on the TRUST trial, which examined Biotronik’s home monitoring system’s safety and effectiveness at detecting early heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias) and its ability to reduce in-person visits.

Advantages of Home Monitoring

Home monitoring, using the Biotronik device or any system, is meant to provide more information about your ICD or pacemaker on a consistent basis. You will still need to have regular in-person visits with your doctor. But those appointments can be more spread out if your physician is getting good information about your device.

You may also feel a little more confident knowing that a home monitoring system is keeping your doctor’s office informed of your heart health and the health of your device.

Research has also shown that patients who consistently use a home monitoring system have lower risks of cardiac complications and death, compared with patients who rely on in-person doctor visits only. The key, though is to make sure you’re using your system properly. This requires coordination with your doctor’s office and the maker of your monitoring system.

Getting Started

Once you know that you’re going to receive any type of implanted cardiac device, talk with your doctor about your home monitoring options.

The type of device you receive may have a home monitoring system designed just for that ICD or pacemaker. The type of device and its manufacturer will determine the best monitoring system for you.

Your comfort level with technology and your willingness and ability to use a particular system are also important considerations.

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