Special Pillow Helping Patients Monitor Hearts

Posted at 4:30 PM, Jul 08, 2015

IVANHOE - Six million Americans suffer from congestive heart failure, a weakening of the heart muscle that causes shortness of breath, fatigue and low energy. Damage to the heart can’t be cured but a new device allows doctors to monitor patients in real time and intervene quickly if the symptoms get worse.

Wayne and Dolores Mori have been married 48 wonderful years. For the past 20, Wayne has struggled with heart problems leading to congestive heart failure.

“Oh, he’s my life,” Dolores exclaimed.

For years, the Moris’ were able to enjoy life and travel, until several months ago.

“Over the winter I could tell, I didn’t have my strength like I did before,” Wayne said.

A small wireless sensor, weighing less than a coin, may help keep Wayne on track. Using a catheter, doctors insert it into the pulmonary artery where it lodges in a pulmonary vessel.

“It can tell us remotely what the pressure is within that vessel,” said Michael Mathier, MD, Cardiologist at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.

Every morning, Wayne lies on top of a special pillow, which communicates with the implant.

“That pillow transmits an electronic signal to the device and then receives a reflected signal back from the device,” Mathier explained.

Mathier can check the data daily from his office. Increasing pressure could be an early sign that heart failure is worsening.

For Wayne, prevention could be as simple as an adjustment to his heart medication.

“We can catch something so that it keeps him out of the hospital,” Dolores said.

The FDA recently approved the CardioMEMS system for use in patients hospitalized in the previous year with severe heart failure. Mathier says early data shows a decrease in the number of times a patient using the CardioMEMS system needed to be admitted to the hospital.