This simple cardiac device is life-changing for heart failure patients

This simple cardiac device is life-changing for heart failure patients

When Bill Schrimpl suffered a heart attack in 2015, his life was turned completely upside down.

The 67-year-old Naperville resident – a career construction superintendent and former college football player – had long had genetic cholesterol problems, and was later told by his doctors he had suffered a small heart attack in the mid-2000s. Then, “the big one” hit.

Over the next 11 months, he was hospitalized 12 times for cardiac issues and was officially diagnosed with heart failure, which occurs when the heart muscle is so weakened it cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s need.

Sometimes, during follow-up appointments, his doctors wouldn’t be able to send him home, instead readmitting him to the hospital.

“Most days, I would get up, shower, get dressed, walk down six steps to the kitchen, have something to eat and then sit in the kitchen and decide whether I was going to try and make it to the living room or go back to bed,” he said.

During those long months, medical professionals across the area were unable to find a long-term solution.

Eventually, he was referred to Dr. Ali Valika, the medical director of the heart failure program at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.

“His admissions were so frequent and his status so unstable that we even had him referred for an evaluation for a cardiac implant as a permanent solution,” Dr. Valika says, referring to a device usually given to a patient waiting for a heart transplant.

Luckily, cardiologists across Advocate had begun using a new, non-surgically implanted device for cases like Bill – CardioMEMs.

The system monitors the cardiac vitals of each patient to let medical professionals give proactive and personalized care. A sensor, placed in a patient’s pulmonary artery, transmits data to health care providers each day, reducing the need for frequent doctor’s appointments and helping manage conditions each day.

Dr. Valika says Advocate has seen “amazing results.” In total, there has been a 47 percent reduction in all-cause hospital admissions in heart failure patients receiving the implant, even better than the 37 percent found in original trials. Good Samaritan has been the leader in the procedure across Advocate, Dr. Valika says, accounting for more than 50 of the 100-plus patients.

“This is an overt paradigm shift in our traditional methods of managing heart failure patients, and this has paved the way to a new outlook of hope for many,” Dr. Valika says. “It gives them a sense of security, hope and return to everyday life.”

Schrimpl now says his CardioMEMs device has given him a new lease on life now that his medical team can monitor his vitals every day and personalize care.

“What I’ve learned in life is to never quit fighting,” he says. “I’ve been thoroughly blessed with having some great doctors – I never quit, and they never quit, no matter how many times I had to go into the hospital. Now, I can do things that were impossible a few years ago.”

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Nathan Lurz

Nathan Lurz, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. He has nearly a decade of professional news experience as a reporter and editor, and a lifetime of experience as an enthusiastic learner. On the side, he enjoys writing even more, tabletop games, reading, running and explaining that his dog is actually the cutest dog, not yours, sorry.