Bluetooth pacemakers afford patients convenience and cost savings

From smartphones to smart cars, smart technology has become the new normal.

Richard Sanchez has taken this a step further and opted for technology that aids his heart. After being diagnosed with symptomatic bradycardia with syncope, a heart rhythm disorder that leads to fainting spells, Sanchez now has a Bluetooth-enabled pacemaker that keeps his heart beating at a normal rate.

According to a news release, Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth is one of the first hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to offer the technology to patients.

The device allows patients to share information with their doctors anywhere, at any time through bluetooth connection. The release stated that previous technologies allowed patients to connect via computer with their doctors using a stationary bedside monitor and a phone landline, but now, patients connect wirelessly using a hand-held monitor, along with an application downloaded to a smartphone or tablet.

“Richard had a recurrently low heart rate, and his rhythm disorder was causing him to pass out,” Dr. Aleem Mughal, a cardiac electrophysiologist on the Texas Health Fort Worth medical staff, said in the release.

Mughal implanted Sanchez’s pacemaker on Dec. 7 at Texas Health Fort Worth.

Taking less than two hours to implant, the dual-chamber, Bluetooth-enabled pacemaker connects to the heart’s right atrium and right ventricle, and makes sure both the upper and lower chambers work together. The pacemaker is able to establish a controlled rhythm in the heart by emitting mild electrical pulses, which allow for proper blood-flow between the chambers.

“It’s smart medicine for your heart,” Mughal said in the release “Having an application that offers convenience, reduces healthcare costs and allows people with pacemakers to remain mobile, is technology that benefits the patient and the physician.”

According to Mughal, the device also cuts down the number of routine doctor visits because patients can download heart data and check the pacemaker’s effectiveness wherever they are through the bluetooth technology.

“Let’s say Richard is at home watching his prized Dallas Cowboys and suddenly feels dizzy again. That could be alarming,” Mughal said in the release. “With this technology, he can easily send information to me, and I’ll be able to determine if he needs to simply rest or immediately head to the hospital.”

The release stated that patients use a small, handheld “reader” to places the device close to their chest, then the device sends detailed information, via Bluetooth, to the doctor.

“The last time I passed out was at church, which is a good thing. I was surrounded by caring individuals who knew what to do,” 69-year-old Sanchez said in the release. “But now I have the pacemaker, and I feel more at ease. It will help keep my heart beating the way it’s supposed to, and my doctor will immediately know if something’s not right.”

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, close to 900,000 people like Sanchez receive a pacemaker every year.

At Texas Health Dallas, cardiologists offer another smart pacemaker, the Bluetooth biventricular pacemaker, also called a cardiac resynchronization therapy device. This device connects to the right atrium, along with the left and right ventricles, and helps the heart pump blood more efficiently. According to the release, this particular pacemaker also helps both ventricles pump in sync.

Over the past six months, cardiac electrophysiologists such as Dr. Charles Lampe, on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and with Texas Health Physicians Group (THPG), have prescribed more than 10 Bluetooth-enabled biventricular pacemakers to patients.

Normally, a diagnostic evaluation will determine which type of pacemaker will address a patient’s needs best. If you’re unsure of your heart risks, learn about Texas Health’s Heart Screening Program. For more information about cardiac care, visit Texas Health’s Heart & Vascular Services.

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