A new system being tested at Rush Medical Center allows doctors to ‘interrogate’ pacer / defibrillators, remotely, at will. And the docs have access to much more info, as well. It’s called the LATITUDE system and researchers are trying to see if it reduces the frequency of CHF hospitalizations:
Unlike other remote devices which only transmit data if certain parameters are out of range, the LATITUDE system uploads health information that can help physicians monitor the day-to-day changes in patients. In addition to the data stored before, during and after an arrhythmia, the system employs a wireless weight scale and blood pressure monitor to record vital statistics crucial for the management of cardiac failure patients. An abrupt change in weight could indicate worsening heart failure.
“This sophisticated system allows physicians to manage the patient much more closely. The same information that would normally require a visit to the office every few months can now be downloaded to the physician at anytime without the patient ever leaving home,” said Dr. Kousik Krishnan, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Rush.
According to Krishnan, the LATITUDE system provides added peace of mind for the patient. The physician can remotely check if the defibrillator is working correctly and assess battery life. If the patient feels the defibrillator activate, he or she can transmit the rhythm information immediately. The physician can quickly analyze the data and determine if the shock was appropriate or if the patient needs to go to the hospital.
“Now with patient information available weekly, or even daily if needed, we can better monitor our patients,” said Dr. Krishnan. “We can pick up abnormalities sooner and act on those before they become serious.”
So, it seems this system can suggest to doctors when their patients are noncompliant with meds, or engaging in ‘strenuous activities.’ Kind of creepy, and enough to raise anyone’s blood pressure. But then again, CHF is a heavy burden itself, and staying out of the hospital is the first requirement for independence.
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