New device offers hope for heart patients

By: 
KIMBERLY HOFF, Physician Relations Manager, Abrazo Arrowhead Campus

Photo courtesy Abrazo Community Health Network
Ruben Aispuro holds his CardioMEMS pillow that he uses each morning to send data on his heart function to the doctor’s office.

West Valley residents who live with congestive heart failure may be eligible for a revolutionary procedure designed to keep them out of the hospital.
CardioMEMS is the only FDA-approved device that could save more lives and make health care procedures affordable for the nearly 6 million Americans suffering from heart failure.
Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital was the first in the Abrazo network to perform the procedure. Now, the device is being implanted in patients at Abrazo Arrowhead and Abrazo West campuses.
“The words ‘heart failure’ may conjure up a thought that death is imminent, but advancements in cardiovascular care, such as CardioMEMS, are helping dispel that myth,” Dr. Kristine Sellberg, an interventional cardiologist who is overseeing the CardioMEMS program at Abrazo Arrowhead and West campuses, said.
Heart failure is the result of persistent high blood pressure, a heart attack or other forms of heart, cardiovascular disease or birth defects. Left untreated, the lack of adequate blood flow could cause the organs to fail, resulting in numerous medical complications that erode a person’s quality of life and often leads to death.
The CardioMEMS device is a sensor about the size of a paperclip that cardiologists implant through a catheter in the heart’s pulmonary artery. Once a day, the patient with the device passes a wand over his chest, which sends data on the heart’s pressure directly to the physician’s computer or hand-held device in real time.
“This helps us monitor the patient’s heart pressure and quickly modify medications before another hospital stay is needed,” Sellberg said.
For Ruben Aispuro, 37, the CardioMEMS device gives him peace of mind as he continues to lead a busy life. Two years ago, the father of two had a lingering cough and cold. He did not experience heart pain, but his energy was depleted to the point that he lost his appetite and he became tired after taking just 20 steps.
Despite his wife’s insistence that he go to the hospital, Aispuro continued to go to work. Because his job in inventory control at a food distribution center requires some physical activity, he struggled, and finally, his boss also insisted that he seek medical care.
“My family has a history of heart problems, but I never expected that it would happen to me,” Aispuro, a west Phoenix resident, said. “It turns out that the virus went to my heart, and by the time I got to the hospital, it was affecting my liver and kidneys.”
While very lucky to be alive, the virus did take its toll, and Aispuro will be on medications for the rest of his life. Last December, Sellberg implanted the CardioMEMS device on him at the Abrazo Arrowhead Campus.
“Things are going well,” Aispuro said. “I’m back to work, and I continue to go for checkups with Dr. Sellberg.
“It takes only a few minutes each morning to lie down on the CardioMEMS pillow and send data on my heart function to her office. My family and I feel very fortunate to have her looking out for me.”
To learn more, visit www.AbrazoHealth.com.

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