Tiny, life-saving device gives big hope to HCA Healthcare heart failure patients

A woman and man in exercise clothes check heart rate after a run in the countryside

HCA Healthcare affiliate Austin Heart is the second highest enrolling research site in the nation for a trial of a new technology that helps improve the quality of life for heart failure patients. The pioneering system is called CardioMEMS and it allows caregivers in the Texas-based physician practice to monitor patients remotely through a sensor on an implanted device.

An illustration of a sensor inside the pulmonary artery

The CardioMEMS technology includes a small sensor that’s placed into the pulmonary artery. It works in conjunction with a special pillow that sends remote wireless signals to a patient’s care team

Dr. Kunjan Bhatt, M.D., heart failure specialist and co-director of heart failure at Austin Heart, is leading the trial and believes the system will have a meaningful impact on patients’ lives.

“Our participation in the trial stems from the belief in the device as an effective tool to manage heart failure,” Dr. Bhatt said. “It already has demonstrated consistent, predictive and effective monitoring of heart failure patients. In addition, it is the only available device that monitors pulmonary artery pressure and it’s the only FDA-approved heart-failure monitoring system proven to reduce costly hospital admissions.”

A male doctor in a white lab coat. Headshot of Dr. Kunjan Bhatt

Dr. Kunjan Bhatt, heart failure specialist and co-director of heart failure at Austin Heart

Nearly six million Americans are suffering from heart failure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patient hospitalizations, medications to treat heart failure and missed days of work costs the nation an estimated $30.7 billion each year.

“The thought behind CardioMEMS is before the patient has symptoms, why don’t we treat the underlying cause, which is a rise in pressure,” Dr. Bhatt explained in a two-minute educational video about the device and the proactive management of heart failure.

CardioMEMs device

The body of the CardioMEMS implantable device is roughly the size of a dime

“Medications have limited capacity and fail to predict heart failure hospitalizations, which can have a detrimental impact on a patient’s health, their family, and their socioeconomic well-being,” Dr. Bhatt added about the symptom-based medical therapy for heart failure.

Data gleaned from devices implanted in 2014 at Austin Heart reveals that patients experienced a 58 percent reduction in hospitalizations within one year of receiving the device. According to Dr. Bhatt, this is in part due to the system’s ability to transmit a patient’s clinical data directly to their physician daily.

For two minutes each day, the patient rests on a special pillow that transmits data via the internet for their physician’s review.  The device alerts the physician when it detects significant changes in personalized patient parameters or does not receive data on a given day.

“The beauty of the device is the ease of use for the patient and the health care team to improve the patient’s heart failure status by remote daily monitoring,” Dr. Bhatt said.

A male doctor checking in on a male patient as the patient's wife looks on

Dr. Bhatt counsels a patient on CardioMEMS

Watch here to learn more about CardioMEMS and treating heart failure before the onset of symptoms.

Part of the HCA Healthcare family, Austin Heart is affiliated with St. David’s HealthCare. Austin Heart is the largest provider of cardiac and vascular services in Central Texas, specializing in cardiology, congestive heart failure, invasive cardiology, cardiovascular disease, interventional cardiology, venous disorders, peripheral vascular interventions and valvular heart disease.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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