COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Congestive heart failure is the fastest-growing form of heart disease in the United States. Drugs can help, but many times patients don't know when they need them. Now, a new device being studied could put patients more in control.
Walking down the driveway to get a newspaper doesn't seem like a big deal. But it was for Lonnie Marshall.
"Couldn't make it to the mailbox and back without stopping along the way, sucking for air and getting in the house," he says. Marshall has congestive heart failure. "I can't crawl in and out the truck like I used to. I used to crawl in and out of the trucks all the time. I have a hard time getting out now."
After antibiotics and steroids failed, Marshall went to see William Abraham, M.D. He prescribed diuretics, drugs that rid the body of extra fluid.
"It turns out that most patients who are developing worsening of their heart failure develop what we call congestion, and that's represented as fluid in the lungs, which makes breathing difficult," Dr. Abraham, a cardiovascular surgeon at Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, tells Ivanhoe.
Right now, the only way to determine if patients have too much fluid in their lungs is if they experience changes in body weight or other symptoms. Marshall became the first American patient to test the HeartPod, a device that measures fluid in the lungs. It is made up of a wire into the heart connected to a small, surgically implanted can used to extract information. Then, a PDA device reads fluid levels, telling the patient how much medicine to take.
Dr. Abraham says, "We can adjust the dose of the patient's water pills to alleviate the congestion before they get into trouble and before they end up in the emergency department or in the hospital."
Marshall checks his fluid levels twice a day. He says it's easy to do, and his breathing is getting better.
So far, about 18 patients are testing the HeartPod worldwide. Dr. Abraham hopes it will give heart patients the same control diabetics have when they check their sugar levels.
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If you would like more information, please contact:
Ohio State University Medical Center
450 West 10th Ave. Box 190
Columbus, OH 43210