FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – For those living with heart failure, there is a common fear that your heart will stop beating and you might not wake up one day. That’s how Teresa Manning felt for nearly 20 years before Dr. Richard Kiel of the heart failure program at Community Regional Medical Center introduced CardioMEMS–A wireless monitor that has been proven to significantly reduce heart failure hospitalizations and improve quality of life.
Dr. Richard Kiel, the Co-Medical Director of the Advanced Heart Failure Program at Community Regional says, “For a long time, we’ve had a lot of difficulty with being able to closely follow these heart patients. With a lot of these patients really maintaining a narrow window of basically the volume level they retain too much fluid and they’re in heart failure–What CardioMEMS offers us is a really kind of an exciting treatment. We’re able to basically implant a pulmonary artery pressure sensor. It’s a very simple, very elegant solution. It’s a loop of metal in a piece of plastic, it’s about the size of a dime. It gets placed in one of the arteries of the lungs–usually the left, middle pulmonary artery.”
The CardioMEMS system is the first and only FDA approved wireless heart failure monitor. Community Regional implemented the technology in 2019 and Dr. Kiel says studies have found that patients are overall living longer and healthier lives due to the fact that they’re able to read pressure measurements from the patients’ body without the patient having to come in for a doctor visit.
“Which to me is kind of one of the most important things– is that they’re no longer chained to a doctor’s office and in and out on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. They’re able to now have this monitoring at home and come in and see me every one, two or three months sometimes so it’s kind of a cool way to give back some quality of life,” Dr. Kiel said.
Teresa Manning was one of Dr.Kiel’s first patients. Her heart failure condition put her in and out of hospitals since she was 18 years old. Dr. Kiel says Teresa doesn’t show a lot of symptoms leading up to hospitalization. But, with the CardioMEMS implant, the system can catch symptoms early to prevent an event from happening and Dr. Kiel hopes they’ve found a long-term solution to Teresa’s problem.
“My life before the CardioMEMS was a whirlwind. Because I was always worried, I was always scared. What if I don’t wake up? How would Dr. Kiel know if I’m okay? How would he know if the sickness is getting worse or if it’s getting better? How would he know that? And so now, fast forward to having the CardioMEMS, he can see it, he can check on me. And I’m thankful for that. I don’t have to worry about freaking out like am I going to wake up in the morning time? Is the medicine working? They can see it. They can see the pressure of my heart. They can see the pressure of my arteries. So that’s what’s the good thing about CardioMEMS,” Manning said.
In order for the system to work properly, Teresa must be consistent in her daily routine. Every day, when Teresa wakes up, she lays down on an electronic pillow that’s paired with the CardioMEMS device so it can go to work and monitor her body’s health values. The reading is then sent to Dr.Kiel and staff to make sure Teresa is in a healthy state.
“The pillow has a little speaker in it, the speaker basically transmits an ultrasound signal that bounces off that little metal ring, it vibrates back and depending on the blood pressures and the lungs, the frequency that it vibrates back changes. We’re actually able to measure in real time… in the patient’s home…what the pressures in the lungs are doing,” said Dr. Kiel.
The CardioMEMS system requires no batteries and shouldn’t need replacing. The procedure itself takes less than an hour to implant, but is designed to be a forever treatment. It’s expected that Teresa will use CardioMEMS for the rest of her life.
“It’s been a long journey, but I’m taking it one day at a time. Dr. Kiel is an amazing cardiologist and I’m very thankful to still be here. And it gets tough, but I’m still here,” said Manning.