MANHASSET, NY – George Drummond was in the hospital four times in the last two years for shortness of breath and fluid buildup around his heart, dangerous symptoms of heart failure.
Last October, Mr. Drummond came to North Shore University Hospital with a similar alarming episode and he received a stent to open up one his coronary arteries. During that visit, he met Rita Jermyn, MD, the hospital’s medical director of heart failure. Dr. Jermyn suggested he try a new technology called CardioMEMS HF System to help him better monitor his health at home.
She explained that a new, small wireless monitoring sensor could be inserted in his pulmonary artery during a minimally invasive procedure that measures pressure in the pulmonary artery. Mr. Drummond would be able to manage his health at home by lying on a special sensor pillow that would transmit data to doctors and nurses at the hospital who could help him manage his condition and help reduce hospitalizations.
“It only takes me five minutes a day to do the reading and it gives me a lot of peace of mind that I have an entire team helping me manage my heart failure,” said Mr. Drummond, 65, a retired healthcare maintenance worker from St. Albans, Queens. If a reading is not in the normal range, clinicians from the hospital’s heart failure team will call and make suggestions such as adjusting medication or diet.
The device was developed by St. Jude Medical and is about the size of a small paper clip. Mr. Drummond and a group of patients who received the implant recently joined Dr. Jermyn and the heart failure team at North Shore for a luncheon and talk at the hospital’s Rust Auditorium to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the CardioMEMS program. Since September 2014, North Shore has implanted the device in 58 patients and is the largest CardioMEMS program in the country.
“It’s incredible how quickly the CardioMEMS device changes people lives by daily monitoring pulmonary pressure and avoiding trips to the hospital,” Dr. Jermyn said. “At the end of the day, we are helping people living with heart failure to lead better and more productive lives.”
Heart failure, a condition where your heart is not able to pump blood as well as it should, affects about five million Americans, with 670,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
Almost one year after Mr. Drummond’s heart failure implant he said, “I’m breathing better, walking more and have returned to my part-time job at Walmart,” adding, “My outlook is good; I like to make people laugh and if I don’t make people laugh I know I’m sick.”
His wife Gail added, “As a caregiver, I feel more secure, knowing that the daily monitoring gives us a better handle on what’s going on.”