Saturday, January 21, 2012

Using Wireless in HF Cases

Heart failure affects 5.8 million in the U.S. alone and is responsible for nearly 1 million hospitalizations each year. Most hospitalizations result from a build-up of body fluid in the lungs and other organs due to the heart’s inability to pump effectively. UCLA researchers want to see patients with heart failure closely tracked in order to avoid hospitalizations and researchers also think that home-monitoring interventions along with patient follow-up would be especially useful.

Today, it is possible to use a number of home monitoring strategies to identify and manage heart failure early. These strategies include obtaining daily weighing and information on medications, phone calls from a nurse or automated response system, home health visits, and the use of telemedicine along with remote monitoring devices.

Several researchers have just published a paper appearing in the online edition of the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology” that discusses the importance of heart failure disease management and monitoring that can be done in the home. Their research was funded by the Ahmanson Foundation and AHRQ.

One of the authors of the research paper, Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, UCLA’s Eliot Corday Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science, Director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, and Co-Chief of Cardiology at the David Geffin School of Medicine at UCLA, sees new promising devices on the horizon to track heart-ventricle and pulmonary artery pressures.

UCLA is currently testing wireless monitoring in a trial referred to as the “Heart Failure in their Better Effectiveness After Transition-Heart Failure” (BEAT-HF) study. The trial is comparing using wireless remote monitoring combined with structured telephone monitoring versus current care provided.

The researchers are studying and hoping to learn if using wireless remote monitoring will improve the care for heart failure patients at six medical centers that include UCLA, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCSD, and UCSF.

During the trial, approximately 1500 patients of both genders 55 or older hospitalized at any of the six medical centers with a principal diagnosis of heart failure will be educated on their condition. They will be taught to use a wireless remote monitoring device from their home on a daily basis for six months following their hospital discharge. Information will be gathered on weight, heart rate, blood pressure, etc and transmitted daily by their remote wireless monitoring device.

Patients will receive structured telephone calls from a centralized call center nurse at least once a week for the first month after their discharge and monthly calls for the remainder of the six month study period. Patients may receive additional calls depending upon the information gathered during the scheduled call center phone calls on their health status.