Remote Monitoring Benefits of Patients with LVAD

By: Alere Staff

 

An LVAD, or left ventricular assist device, is a pump that is surgically implanted into the chest to assist a weakened heart in pumping oxygen-rich blood to the body.1 These devices are primarily used to treat advanced stages of heart failure, which affects over five million people in the United States.2

A patient will be admitted to the hospital for this surgical procedure. During the hospital stay, the patient and their family are taught how to care for the pump and power supply, how to manage the surgical incisions and how to monitor for complications. 

They will require close monitoring in the initial months after surgery to prevent complications; which could include infection, blood clots, and pump problems. LVAD implantation is a big adjustment, both physically and emotionally. However, thousands of patients worldwide are living productive lives with their VAD.  Most patients return to living at home, moving about freely, enjoying favorite activities, and returning to work or school.4,5  

Remote Monitoring Has Benefits 

Some patients travel a distance to get to the facility where the device is implanted. Travel to the facility for even routine monitoring can be difficult for these patients. Home monitoring for signs and symptoms of potential complications allows patients to maintain close communication with the VAD team in the comfort of their own home, and has been proven to reduce readmission to the hospital due to complications, in a recent study completed at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF). 

In the UCSF study, frequent home monitoring of blood pressure, weight, INR (International Normalized Ratio) and LVAD device parameters led to a significant 52% reduction in risk for readmission. Patients participated in the Alere VADWatch® program to monitor and send data to the VAD team at UCSF. The patients transmitted data via a wireless tablet to the clinic daily. The clinic staff was then able to evaluate the data and determine if intervention was needed to prevent complications and/or readmission. Current usual care measures the blood pressure every two to three months, while weight and LVAD device parameters are only reported if out of a prescribed range. The patient’s INR may be measured every one to two weeks by a laboratory test. Subtle changes to these measurements may not be recognized early enough to prevent complications. 

The benefits found in this small population of patients cannot be ignored; further evaluation of remote monitoring is warranted, since this study included patients from only one facility. Consult your physician if you would like more information on LVAD or home monitoring. 

References:

  1. Merriam-Webster. Medical Definition of VAD. Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary. 2016. Retrieved from the website: www.merriam-webster.com/medical/vad.
  2. National Institutes of Health. How is Heart Failure Treated? www.nhlbi.nih.gov. June 22, 2015. Retrieved from the website: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hf/treatment.
  3. Remote Monitoring is Associated with Fewer Hospital Readmissions Following Left Ventricular Assist Device Implantation; Psotka et al. UCSF.
  4. Mayo Clinic. Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD). http://www.mayoclinic.org/. 2016. Retrieved from the website: http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ventricular-assist-device/multimedia/left-ventricular-assist-device/img-20006714.
  5. National Institutes of Health. What is a Ventricular Assist Device? http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/. March 31, 2012. Retrieved from the website: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/vad