Did you know that every 33 seconds someone dies of heart disease? In this year alone 670,000 Americans will be diagnosed with heart failure and half of them will die within five years; people like my aunt who died of heart failure in 2008.
There are currently over 5.1 million people living with heart failure in the U.S. Unfortunately for many patients, much of their time is spent in the hospital. We’re learning this week that there’s a new way to monitor the disease so patients and their loved ones can spend more time at home and out of the hospital!
On Monday, September 15th Dr. William Abraham (Professor of Internal Medicine and Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine) attended the Heart Failure Society of America 18th Annual Scientific Meeting in Las Vegas. He joined me from the conference in Las Vegas to discuss heart failure and a new implanted device that is helping patients and their physicians monitor heart failure and spend more time at home and out of the hospital.
Candace Rose: What is heart failure?
Dr. William Abraham: “Heart failure is a situation in which the heart no longer keeps up with the body’s needs generally due to either weakness of the heart or stiffness of the heart. This results in the body retaining fluid, it results in shortness of breath and fatigue, exercise intolerance, and sometimes swelling.”
Candace Rose: Why is it so important to monitor patients with heart failure?
Dr. William Abraham: “Heart failure patients are at high risk for hospitalization. There are more than one million hospitalizations for heart failure each year in the United States, and with each subsequent hospitalization the risk of dying is increased. Our goal is to keep patients well, to keep them dry – that is to prevent this fluid from accumulating, and to keep them out of the hospital.”
Candace Rose: Is there anything that can be done to prevent it?
Dr. William Abraham: “Yes, the good news now is that we have a new tool for monitoring heart failure, and that is the CardioMEMS heart failure system. This is an implanted monitor that allows the physician, it allows us to directly measure pulmonary artery pressure, which is a measure of those fluid levels on a day to day basis remotely from the patients home, and by managing those pressures, we can keep patients out of the hospital. This really was the primary finding of our CHAMPION trial of the CardioMEMS heart failure system, which demonstrated a 37% reduction in heart failure hospitalizations over a follow-up period that averaged about 15 months. Over a relatively short period there was a lot to be gained in what can be gained gets better and better over time.”
Candace Rose: What did you learn from CHAMPION?
Dr. William Abraham: “In addition to this really significant reduction in the risk of heart failure hospitalization, we saw that we could improve patients quality of life, so patients felt better. They were able to do more things at home and were kept out of the hospital more frequently. We’ve looked at a number of subgroups of patients, for example patients who have weak hearts versus those that have stiff hearts, what we call systolic and diastolic heart failure respectively. The device allowed us to keep both groups of patients out of the hospital.
In data that we just presented yesterday (interview took place on Tuesday, September 16th) at the Heart Failure Society of America meeting, we showed that patients that have chronic kidney disease and heart failure, we can use this device to keep them out of the hospital as well, and that is such an important observation because chronic kidney disease is one of the most common comorbidities in patients who have heart failure.”
Candace Rose: Is there anything else that patients and their loved ones should know about the CHAMPION data?
Dr. William Abraham: “I’d like to refer them to a website that provides good data on heart failure and the CardioMEMS system, as well as the CHAMPION data and that is HeartFailureAnswers.com, and to encourage patients to talk to their doctors about this new technology, although frankly some doctors might not yet know about it. It’s good for patients to educate themselves as well, and this now a proven way, in fact the first and only FDA approved heart failure monitoring device that’s proven to significantly reduce heart failure hospital admissions when used by physicians to manage heart failure patients.”