WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers report that a wireless implanted device monitors fluid build-up in the lungs of heart failure patients and alerts doctors when intervention is needed.
As a result, the device reduces hospitalizations and improves quality of life for these patients, they added.
"It is the build-up of fluid pressure in the lungs that causes symptoms such a shortness of breath and leads to fluid leaking into the lung, which is the major cause of hospitalization in heart failure patients," explained study author Dr. William T. Abraham, director of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus.
By monitoring the fluid pressure in the lungs, the doctor can adjust the patient's medication to bring the pressure levels down and keep the patient out of the hospital, he noted.
"This promises to revolutionize the way we manage patients who have moderate or severe heart failure," Abraham said. "Prior to this, the tools that we could use to evaluate how heart failure patients were doing were not very revealing and so we have failed to keep patients out of the hospital."
The report is published in the Feb. 9 online edition of The Lancet.
For the study, Abraham's group randomly assigned 550 patients with moderately severe heart failure to have the device implanted or not, in addition to standard medical care.
The device is placed in the pulmonary artery in the lung using a catheter, so the procedure is minimally invasive, Abraham added.
During the first six months, 83 patients with devices were hospitalized for heart failure-related problems, compared with 120 patients who did not have the device, the researchers found. That's a 30 percent reduction in hospitalizations, they noted.
Over the entire 15 months of follow-up, those with the device had a 39 percent reduction
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