For patients who experience irregular heartbeats, called arrhythmia, there’s a new device that can provide information about their condition. Brian Brockway, president and CEO of Transoma Medical, Inc., a St. Paul medical-technology company, says that of the 1.5 million patients admitted to emergency rooms each year for fainting, about 90 percent “can be diagnosed with a good medical history or a 12-lead electrocardiogram in the emergency room along with an echocardiogram.” Some patients whose symptoms don’t have a definite cause are often sent home wearing a machine that monitors their heart rate.
But sometimes, even those monitoring techniques don’t give doctors the data they need to diagnose, especially in patients where the arrhythmia is intermittent. Transoma’s Sleuth Implantable ECG Monitoring System is a longer-term and less intrusive monitoring solution for arrhythmia. The 50-cent-piece sized device is quickly implanted just under skin in the shoulder area; it takes about 15 minutes.
“Once the device is placed under the skin, it then monitors the rhythm of the heart 24-7 for up to 28 months,” Brockway says. “If it finds an abnormal rhythm, it captures it and stores it in the memory of the implantable device. It has a wireless communication link to a [handheld] device that is about the size of a cell phone. Once or twice a day, it will transfer the rhythm strips that have been stored in the memory of the device to this handheld device. There, it will be temporarily stored and then relayed to a review center.”
At the cardiac review center, patient data is monitored as it comes in. A patient’s doctor can access the cardiac review center data via a secure computer and Web site.