Tiny heart sensor giving Calgary doctors big advantage in ongoing patient care

CALGARY — A tiny wireless sensor is giving cardiovascular surgeons in Calgary a heads up in the ongoing care of patients who have suffered heart failure.

The CardioMEMS device is just 15 millimetres long and is implanted in the pulmonary artery.

It measures lung pressure, a key marker of a patient’s heart health, and physicians receive daily reports which allow them to detect problems early.

Schoolteacher Michelle Kotelko, 35, was born with a rare heart defect and last September was the first patient to have the sensor implanted.

“I couldn’t even walk from my classroom to the car after a day’s work or around the block with my family without being short of breath and in physical agony,” she said Monday.

Kotelko said she was diagnosed with heart failure and was potentially looking at a heart and lung transplant when her doctor asked her if she’d like to be the first patient in Western Canada to receive the sensor.

“I was sold. I thought anything is better than what I’m living with right now. It has really taken the guesswork out of that cat-and-mouse game of trying to catch up to my symptoms.”

Kotelko has to lie down every day for 10 to 15 seconds on a special pillow that allows the device in her heart to send data to her physician.

A transplant is still a possibility, she said, but her condition has improved. She’s at the point where she has been able to resume a normal life which includes bike-riding and kayaking.

“Basically we have been able to use medication therapy … to get my pressure so low that when the time comes, if I do need any type of transplant operation, it will be heart only (not lungs),” said Kotelko.

She said her pain went away within a week of having the sensor inserted due to changes her doctor made in her treatment based on readings from the sensor.

Her physician, Dr. Brian Clarke from Foothills Medical Centre and the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta are conducting the clinical pilot program that runs until early next year.

“(The sensor) sits there forever and the patient then takes home (the pillow) and sends us information every day,” Clarke said.

“That plots trends of the heart and lung pressures that we make actionable. We use that information to … find the best treatments.”

Clarke said the sensor reduces the amount of time a heart patient has to spend in hospital and is likely to save lives.

“We’re actually able to identify — before the patient even feels anything — when they are starting to retain fluid, when they are starting to deteriorate, before they develop symptoms. That early intervention is where the clinical benefit comes from.”

Clarke said the procedure was developed in the United States and has been in use there for the last six or seven years.

Just Posted

TC Energy applauds Nebraska court victory over opponents of Keystone XL pipeline

CALGARY — One of the last major hurdles for the Keystone XL… Continue reading

Tribunal rules Edmonton pharmacist harmed integrity of profession

EDMONTON — An Edmonton pharmacist has been found guilty of unprofessional conduct… Continue reading

U.S. secretary of state takes aim at China over diplomatic feud with Canada

OTTAWA — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed any suggestion that… Continue reading

Liberals dig up video of Scheer speaking against same-sex marriage

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals hinted on Thursday at some of the… Continue reading

Your Ward News editor gets the maximum one year jail for hate promotion

TORONTO — The editor of a Toronto-based publication was handed the maximum… Continue reading

WATCH: Trailer stolen from Red Deer deli

A Red Deer business has contacted police after a trailer was stolen… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Thursday The Red Deer and District Garden Club hosts its annual Flower… Continue reading

People’s Party outlines seats with prominent candidates in bid to enter debates

OTTAWA — The upstart People’s Party of Canada is making another bid… Continue reading

Manitoba premier Brian Pallister says fans disappointed after NFL controversy

WINNIPEG — The premier of Manitoba says “there’s a lot of disappointment”… Continue reading

North American stock markets down in late-morning trading, loonie down

TORONTO — Losses in the energy and industrial sectors led Canada’s main… Continue reading

China announces tariff hike on $75 billion of US products

BEIJING — China on Friday announced tariff hikes on $75 billion of… Continue reading

Billionaire David Koch, conservative donor, dies at age 79

WASHINGTON — Billionaire industrialist David H. Koch, who with his older brother,… Continue reading

Quebec has accepted 40 per cent fewer skilled workers in first half of 2019

MONTREAL — New statistics show Quebec is making good on its promise… Continue reading

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

OTTAWA — Zuhair Alshaer spends most of his day editing articles and… Continue reading

Most Read