Heart health is important: 45-year-old, school teacher, Lakshmi was not new to heart problems. In June 2019, she was diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia (palpitation, racing heart) a condition that leads to irregular heartbeats as a result of the heart pumping too fast or too slow. However, Lakshmi ignored the condition as regular medical consultations helped ensure that her condition was under control. She was managing fine until the pandemic broke out.
Lakshmi started experiencing increased symptoms earlier and was unable to step out and consult a cardiologist due to concerns around her health and safety. The symptoms gradually impacted her routine chores including her professional life. When her condition worsened, she was compelled to visit the hospital after 4 months and was recommended to undergo a cardiac ECG, a medical test that helps detect heart abnormalities by measuring the electrical activity generated by the heart.
Continuous monitoring of the heart
Since it was essential that her heart rhythm be monitored for a few more days, she was put on an external loop recorder which is a small and convenient diagnostic tool for at-home continuous monitoring of the heart while carrying out daily activities. The sustained monitoring revealed that she was suffering from a fatal arrhythmia called ventricular arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeats that originate in the lower heart chambers) and had to undergo minimally invasive surgery to monitor her heartbeat and for keeping it under control.
She subsequently underwent an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) device implantation.
The implanted ICD device helped her to overcome a life-threatening condition like ventricular arrhythmia amidst the pandemic through timely medical intervention and treatment. The latest ICDs are equipped with advanced technologies like remote monitoring. This feature allows for Lakshmi’s heart to be monitored remotely from the comfort of her home by her doctor, thereby ensuring peace of mind for both the patient and doctor.
What is a remote monitoring technology, and how does it work?
There is an increasing burden of heart diseases in India due to factors such as sedentary lifestyle, increasing stress, obesity, smoking and consumption of alcohol among others. These factors combined with a low level of awareness of the various heart conditions and their management through new-age technologies leads to high mortality rates.
While prevention is important, once diagnosed with a heart condition, monitoring your heart health is critical and integral. This is where technologies like remote monitoring can help in detection and treatment much earlier as compared to a situation without constant surveillance.
Remote cardiac monitoring or remote heart monitoring is the most effective and accurate tool for monitoring the heart health of patients with abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias) and heart failure.
It can be used for patients who have undergone device implantation such as ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) or CRT-D (cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator) devices for managing their heart condition. The technology involves syncing the transmitter with the ICD/CRT-D to acquire data on the heart’s rate and rhythm.
The computer then transmits this data to the cardiologist through a secure website. The syncing and transmission can happen 24×7, even while one is asleep and enables the cardiologist who has the medical history of the patient to offer the best medical advice, remotely.
How this technology benefits patients:
According to the European Heart Journal, in the case of remote monitoring, there is a greater than 65% reduction in hospitalization and nearly 80% reduction in the time taken to detect fatalities and initiate timely action.
- Automatic checks for regular monitoring
- Opportunity for an enhanced quality of life
- Option to reach out to the doctor directly at any time during the day
- Convenience and flexibility of securely communicating critical information to the doctor
- Patients with remote monitoring devices have a better chance of survival than those without it
Remote cardiac device monitoring is a game-changer that’s more important than ever because patients can be monitored from the safety and comfort of their homes. The Latest technologies such as smartphone-enabled remote monitoring help personalize and customize the approach to cardiac care by enabling patients to be in complete control of their heart health and be involved in their treatment. The technology also has user-friendly features such as simplified programming and enhanced detection and treatment capabilities to ensure safer care and improved quality of life for patients.
Article by Dr Ankur Phatarpekar, Consultant Cardiologist Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai