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“McLaren Bay Region Changed My Life.” - Greg Buonodono

Published on Thursday, July 28, 2016
Left to right: Joyce Buonodono; Kalil Masri, DO, Cardiologist; Greg Buonodono, Heart Failure patient; Steven Brennan, DO, Family Practice Resident; Sue Hafer, NP
Left to right: Joyce Buonodono; Kalil Masri, DO, Cardiologist; Greg Buonodono, Heart Failure patient; Steven Brennan, DO, Family Practice Resident; Sue Hafer, NP

Heart failure (HF) does not mean your heart has failed or stopped beating. HF means that the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5.1 million Americans have heart failure, with 670,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Patients with heart failure are frequently hospitalized, have a reduced quality of life and face a higher risk of death.Roughly 1.4 million patients in the U.S. have NYHA Class III heart failure, and historically these patients account for nearly half of all heart failure hospitalizations. According to the American Heart Association, the estimated direct and indirect cost of heart failure in the U.S. for 2012 was $31 billion and that number is expected to more than double by 2030.

Gregory J. Buonodono of Midland, MI, has heart failure. His quality of life had diminished and he was spending one week out of every month in the hospital. Greg’s wife, Joyce, said he was barely able to do anything.

But then something arrived on the medical horizon that changed Greg’s life.

McLaren Bay Region is now able to implant a new miniaturized, wireless monitoring sensor to manage heart failure (HF). The CardioMEMS HF System is the first and only FDA-approved heart failure monitoring device that has been proven to significantly reduce hospital admissions when used by physicians to manage heart failure. 

Kalil Masri, DO, McLaren Bay Heart & Vascular, is Greg’s cardiologist/heart failure specialist. “CardioMEMS is a one-of-a-kind technology,” said Dr. Masri. “It has the ability to detect heart failure episodes earlier, thus allowing patient treatment sooner and quicker. This reduces hospitalizations and improves patients’ quality of life.”

In February 2016, Dr. Masri implanted a CardioMEMS HF System sensor into Greg’s pulmonary artery (PA) during a non-surgical procedure. Greg was able to return home a couple of hours after the procedure.

The sensor directly measures the pressure in the pulmonary artery. Increased PA pressures appear before weight and blood pressure changes, which are often used as indirect measures of worsening heart failure. The new system allows patients to transmit daily sensor readings from their homes to their health care providers allowing for personalized and proactive management to reduce the likelihood of hospitalization.

“I take a reading every morning at home,” Greg said. “I weigh myself first.”

The CardioMEMS sensor is designed to last the lifetime of the patient and doesn’t require batteries. Once implanted, the wireless sensor sends pressure readings to an external patient electronic system. There is no pain or sensation for the patient during the readings. The CardioMEMS HF System allows the patients to transmit critical information about their heart failure status to a clinician on a regular basis, without the need for additional clinic or hospital visits. This provides clinicians with the ability to detect worsening heart failure sooner and adjust treatment to reduce the likelihood that the patient will need to be hospitalized.

“There’s a special pillow connected to a computer,” Greg said. “I lie down on the pillow and hit ‘start’ – and the program begins and talks me through the process.”

“Dr. Masri is the best,” Greg said with a smile. He’s an excellent cardiologist. I get treated like a king at McLaren Bay Region and at McLaren Bay Heart & Vascular. Everybody  knows me, says ‘hello’ and calls me by my first name.”

“I feel very comfortable asking Dr. Masri any question.”

The signal from the device is transmitted to Dr. Masri’s office where he can review the results and make any adjustments to Greg’s treatment, if needed.

Sue Hafer, Nurse Practitioner (NP) at McLaren Bay Heart & Vascular, also follows up with Greg on a regular basis.

Joyce said, “It’s amazing what having this implant has done. It has changed his life to a new normal life. A simple reading on the CardioMEMS has made a huge difference.”

Data from a clinical trial showed that the CardioMEMS technology reduces heart failure hospital admissions by up to 37 percent. The CHAMPION trial studied the effectiveness of the CardioMEMS HF System in New York Heart Association (NYHA) Functional Classification System class III heart failure patients who had been hospitalized for heart failure in the previous 12 months. Results of the trial demonstrated a statistically significant 28 percent reduction in the rate of heart failure hospitalizations at six months, and 37 percent reduction in heart failure hospitalizations during an average follow-up duration of 15 months.

The CardioMEMS HF System, from global medical device manufacturer St. Jude Medical, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for commercial use in the U.S. For more information, visit