Inside Peconic Bay Medical Center's cardiac cath lab, physicians can implant life-saving devices like CardioMEMS.

CardioMEMS restores harmonica player’s life and breath

Daniel Bryant suffered from heart failure and was short of breath. CardioMEMS, a newly available monitoring device at Peconic Bay Medical Center, has returned him to an active lifestyle.

Daniel Bryant was having trouble catching his breath. At age 66, he had always been active and athletic, but lately, breathing problems slowed his interests, as well as his sleeping and eating habits. Getting to and from work was a struggle, and he began to withdraw what gave him pleasure.

An enthusiastic golfer who insisted on walking rather than riding in a golf cart, he carried his clubs up and down the hills and fairways of the Bethpage Park Black Course hundreds of times. But now, even walking to the car was exhausting.

On a particularly bad day, he gasped for breath. At the urging of his wife and the pastor of his church, he was taken to the Emergency Department at Peconic Bay Medical Center (PBMC). As he walked into the hospital, a nurse recognized his symptoms immediately and said, “You’re having trouble breathing, aren’t you?”

Minutes later, he was on a stretcher and wheeled into the hospital’s diagnostic imaging center, where tests revealed that his lungs were filled with fluid. He had pulmonary edema, brought on by heart failure.

After having nearly two liters of fluid drained from his lungs and being put on oxygen therapy, Mr. Bryant got his first restful night’s sleep in months at PBMC. The next day, Mr. Bryant underwent a catheterization exam at the hospital’s Kanas Regional Heart Center.

Implanting CardioMEMS

As cardiologists looked for blockages and other impairments in his arteries using a miniaturized camera at the end of the computer-controlled intravenous catheter, Mr. Bryant watched the process on the large-screen video monitor above his bed in the heart center’s Cath Lab. When the exam confirmed heart failure, Stanley Katz, MD, PBMC chief cardiologist and director of interventional cardiology, recommended a CardioMEMS implant. Newly available at PBMC, CardioMEMS continuously assesses heart function and adjusts treatments as-needed. 

Mr. Bryant welcomed CardioMEMS and became the second person to have the device implanted at PBMC. Dr. Katz implanted the miniaturized wireless sensor in Mr. Bryant’s pulmonary artery, where it could directly measure pressure in the artery. With the sensor in place, Mr. Bryant can use a portable home-based monitoring system to take daily pressure readings and transmit them to his cardiac care team, which makes assessments in real time.

“For heart failure patients, the CardioMEMS monitoring system can offer a new lease on life,” Dr. Katz said. “Using the Cath Lab’s non-invasive technology, it takes only a few minutes to implant the sensor in a patient’s pulmonary artery. It can be used alone or in combination with a pacemaker or a defibrillator, and it is a tremendous advance over the older techniques of caring for heart failure patients.

“As a cardiologist, it enables me to monitor my patients’ condition daily and custom-tailor their treatment to what’s going on in their lives on a daily basis. For the patients, it provides the confidence and peace of mind needed to enjoy each day without worrying about every twinge or hiccup. It’s something every patient suffering from heart failure should consider."

New life

Less than three weeks after his visit to the heart center, Mr. Bryant felt as good as he has in years and is making plans for an active future. He has cheerfully added the 15-minute CardioMEMS heart monitoring session to his daily routine and is completing his course work at the Christian Leadership Institute to qualify as a health care chaplain. He’s also waiting for the weather to improve so he can finally hit some golf balls at the local driving range.

“I can’t say enough about the people at the emergency room and the heart center,” Mr. Bryant said. “They were excellent. They are excellent. They are giving me my life back.”

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