When the patient’s status changes, a built-in microchip of the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) sends a signal to a satellite via a small transmitter that can be placed on a nightstand, worn on a belt or kept in a purse. In addition, a home monitoring system virtually instantaneously sends a beat-by-beat record (similar to an ECG) of any heart rhythm abnormality which the doctor can view on a secure website.

“The patient doesn’t have to press any button or call the doctor to activate the system,” said cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Niraj Varma, associate professor of medicine, division of cardiology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. The notification signal is automatically generated, even if the patient is unaware of any problems. The doctor can program the device to send an alert for specific reasons, such as a significant increase in the number arrhythmia episodes, as well as the preferred alert method, i.e., via email, cell phone, fax or page.

“With this surveillance system, physicians for the first time have a way to monitor non-hospitalised heart patients 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week,” he said. “It will enable us to identify problems early on as well as help prevent problems.”

“The new ICD provides faster delivery of care to patients and also reduces the number of times a patient has to go to the doctor’s office for follow-up visits,” said Varma, who specialises in treatment of arrhythmias. “Because patients’ heart muscle pumping action can be poor as a result of the heart attack, it is important to monitor heart activity.” With the new device it can be done around the clock.

MEDICA.de; Source: Loyola University Health System