Phyllis’s Story: How the CardioMEMs Device Gave Her Peace of Mind

When Phyllis Brooks came to a local hospital due to shortness of breath, she was transferred to McLaren Greater Lansing hospital, where further testing confirmed her diagnosis of a heart condition, called cardiac amyloidosis.

Cardiac amyloidosis is caused by a buildup of protein that can impair the heart’s ability to function normally, leading to heart failure symptoms.

“During the cardiac tests, I was told I was going into A-Fib (atrial fibrillation), and I hadn’t even known it,” said Brooks.

Because of her symptoms — such as sudden weight loss, hair loss, and shortness of breath — and it aligning with her diagnosis, Brooks saw Dr. Awais Kang and Alison Smith, PA, at the McLaren Greater Lansing Congestive Heart Failure Clinic and was told she was a candidate to receive the CardioMEMS device.

CardioMEMS HF System allows providers to monitor and treat patients before overt symptoms occur. The system features a sensor that is implanted in the pulmonary artery (PA) during a nonsurgical procedure to directly measure PA pressure.

“With Phyllis’s diagnosis, it causes her heart wall to become thicker and people with this diagnosis can fill up with fluid quickly, so traditional methods of treatment for heart failure don’t work as well for this diagnosis,” said Smith. “She was having a lot of symptoms and recurrence of hospital visits, so through this device we can closely monitor her symptoms and she has not been readmitted since she’s received the CardioMEMS device.”

The doctors at the Heart Failure Clinic receive measurements from the device and it can catch any red flags (such as weight or fluid increase) before potential problems occur and they can contact the patient and adjust any medications or treatments as needed.

Dr. Kang, who oversees the heart failure program, said utilizing this device helps them keep their patients from being readmitted to the hospital, while improving their symptoms, which is the ultimate goal for their patients.

“When patients living with these heart conditions have to come into the hospital, it exposes them to other illnesses and diseases such as pneumonia,” said Dr. Kang. “Keeping them out of the hospital and improving their symptoms can really enhance their quality of life.”

For Brooks, she said this has made a positive impact on her life, giving her more peace of mind.

“It’s a great device to have. I just rest on a pillow every day and it sends my information right to the Heart Failure Clinic,” said Brooks. “Before, I wouldn’t know if I was having any heart problems or that my heart was racing, but now that I am monitored every day, the doctor can call me and tell me when something is happening and whether I need to be seen. It really gives me a lot of relief.” 

To learn more about the Heart and Vascular Institute at McLaren Greater Lansing, click here.

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