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The medical management of patients is crucial in treating heart failure. Weakening of the left ventricle increases pressures in the pulmonary veins and arteries leading to congestion of the lungs and shortness of breath. These pressures are normally measured during an angioplasty procedure using a balloon tipped catheter advanced from a large vein. The catheter is inserted into the pulmonary artery, once in position it’s inflated, causing a small balloon at the end of the catheter to inflate which makes it possible to measure the pressure within the artery. Although very accurate the procedure is invasive and requires a visit to the hospital.
A new diagnostic device from St. Jude Medical called CardioMEMS HF System is designed to measure pulmonary pressures as often as desired without repeat catheterizations. When measured, the pulmonary artery device provides the most accurate guide to increase or decrease heart failure medicines to improve symptoms of heart failure. The device; measuring 45mm in length with a 15mm body and two looped antennae, emits information without batteries or leads to electronics which read the information. Although it requires initial hospitalization, additional readings are done at home through a flat, pillow like electronic device which receives the information. The reading is painless and has no sensation. The information is then sent to a secure online database where a doctor can then treat the patient accordingly. The CHAMPION trial, concluded that there was a 28% reduction in heart failure hospitalizations at six months and a 37 % reduction in annualized (taking into account the entire follow up period averaging 15 months, calculated as an annual rate of decrease) heart failure hospitalizations when using the device, compared to undergoing cardiac catheterization for every measurement and a significant improvement on life.