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Health news and issues in the Ozarks.

Local Hospital Using New Method for Monitoring Heart Patients

St. Jude

A device that’s new in Springfield can help keep heart patients out of the hospital, and all they have to do is lie on a pillow for a few seconds once a day.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more.

CoxHealth is using a new procedure to monitor heart patients.  The method consists of a sensor that’s implanted in a patient’s pulmonary artery, which is located just outside the heart.

"And what that does is it literally senses the pressure, and we can therefore track changes of the pressure in the lungs," said Dr. Stephen Kuehn, cardiologist with CoxHealth. 

According to Dr. Kuehn, that pressure typically increases with the development of heart failure due to a weak or stiff heart.

The main goals of the sensor, which is part of the CardioMEMS Heart Failure System, are to keep heart patients out of the hospital and to improve their quality of life.  A clinical trial showed that the CardioMEMS technology reduces heart failure hospital admissions by up to 37 percent, according to a news release from CoxHealth.

Patients simply lie on a special pillow for a few seconds once each day, and data is sent via a phone or Internet connection to their cardiologists’ offices.

"And then we review the data and we can see trends in increasing pressure within the lungs, and if we were to see that we can adjust medications by phone and prevent people from going to the hospital or becoming more short of breath," he said.

Implanting the sensor takes only 20 to 40 minutes under light anesthesia, and the patients go home the same day.

The device is expected to last the patient’s lifetime.

Patients who are candidates for the procedure are those with known heart failure and who have been hospitalized for it.  The procedure is not recommended for those with late-stage heart failure, according to Dr. Kuehn.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.