This February, heart health and cardiac care will receive special attention during American Heart Month, but it will look different than in years past. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, technology like apps and remote monitoring helped patients stay connected to their physicians no matter where they were, without having to leave their home. For patients with implanted heart devices, this means doctors can help manage their conditions even from miles away.
This rise in telemedicine and remote monitoring will likely continue through 2021, and possibly beyond, as more people are becoming comfortable with this type of care.
For people with atrial fibrillation, a common arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm) impacting more than 5.3 million Americans, and heart failure, which impacts more than 6.2 million Americans (AHA), staying connected is a key element to managing their condition.
Take Bobby Marr, a flight attendant, husband, and father of three whose specialized cardiac defibrillator helps keep his heartbeat synchronized and treats abnormal or dangerously fast heart rhythms that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Since his device, created by Medtronic, is paired with a smartphone app that sends alerts to his doctor, Bobby can stay closely connected with his healthcare providers. In fact, he recently received a call from his clinic after his smartphone app alerted his care team so they could take action on a clinically concerning event.
“After hearing from my cardiac care team, I am feeling better and have peace of mind that they can keep track of my changing condition or symptoms of heart failure, especially during COVID-19 surges when I am limiting my in-person clinic visits.”
It is critical for patients with abnormal heart rhythms or heart failure to stay in close communication with their cardiac team to ensure they are getting the care they need. Here are some topics to keep in mind about heart devices and care for these common conditions.
What You May Not Know About Staying Connected with Your Heart Health
1. Treatment Options for Irregular Heart Rhythms and Heart Failure
There are many treatment options for arrhythmias and heart failure, which may include medications, implantable devices, or surgical procedures, and it’s important to talk with your doctor, who may refer you to a cardiologist or an electrophysiologist, a doctor who specializes in treating abnormal heart rhythms.
Today, there are many different ways to help manage irregular rhythms and heart failure. For example, devices like implanted cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) detect and treat dangerously fast heartbeats that can cause sudden cardiac arrest. Cardiac resynchronization therapy-defibrillators (CRT-D) send unnoticeable electrical pulses to help the heart beat in more synchronized patterns, helping reduce symptoms for patients with heart failure. For Bobby’s condition, he has a CRT-D that adjusts to his body’s needs.
2. Implanted Heart Devices and Smartphone Compatibility
Millions of heart patients benefit from remote cardiac device monitoring, and the newest devices are compatible with smartphone apps that connect patients’ device data with their doctors. This remote technology linked via smartphones or tablets can reduce in-person clinic visits and hospitalizations and allows patients to receive telehealth care.
Bobby’s defibrillator is connected to his smartphone through an app that delivers alerts that can speed care response time for life-threatening symptoms. He says, “My device lets me feel connected through the smartphone I carry around every day. My doctor is alerted, so he can make adjustments — to the device or my medications — and I can focus on spending time with my wife, adult children and their families, or even just preparing to board my next flight.”
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of heart disease, don’t hesitate to speak to a doctor. Learn more about heart rhythm disorders and treatments, as well as remote monitoring options at Medtronic.com/followyourheart.