The cardiology team at Galway University Hospitals has carried out a first-in-man clinical trial for a sensor that will hopefully allow patients with heart failure to avoid hospitalisation.
This Cordella Sensor detects changes in the health of patients with heart failure and securely transmits the information to the care team for review, allowing for clinical intervention to prevent a heart failure flare-up resulting in urgent hospitalisation.
This technology is particularly relevant now during restricted movements when patients with underlying conditions are cocooning to minimise the chances of contracting COVID-19.
Over the past 18 months, seven patients with advanced heart failure have had a Cordella Sensor implanted in their right pulmonary artery to monitor their heart pressure.
Using a secure cloud-based system, the physiological data from the sensor can be read daily by the clinical team in the hospital who can identify if there is a change in the patients’ condition and modify their medication and make other decisions on their care.
Dr Faisal Sharif, Consultant Cardiologist at GUH and Director of Cardiovascular Research and Innovation Centre at NUIG is the lead for the clinical trial.
He said, “Patients with advanced heart failure usually have 3 or 4 hospital admissions per year with each stay lasting between 2 and 3 weeks in order to get their flare-up under control.
However, there are changes in the pressure of the pulmonary artery around a week before a flare-up and if these changes are detected in time, myself or my colleague Dr John Barton can make changes to the patients’ medication which will prevent the flare-up and the subsequent hospital admission.”
In order to monitor pressure in the pulmonary artery a tiny sensor is inserted into the artery.
This “simple procedure” only requires an overnight stay in hospital Dr Sharif says.
We can then receive the data from the patients when they are at home via a hand-held reader which they hold over the sensor and this in turns transmits the information directly to our clinic by wifi.
The full system with the sensor is also capable of monitoring blood pressure, weight, heart rate and oxygen saturation via bluetooth enabled devices, and sending that data to the clinic.
“Since the clinical trial started 18 months ago, none of the patients who have taken part have been admitted to hospital with heart-related illnesses.
“Also, they no longer need to travel to outpatient clinics which would typically involve 6 or 8 visits per year.”
“This greatly improves the quality of life for our patients and during this time of cocooning, it is one less worry for them.”
John O’Connor, a patient from Galway City said that this technology gives him “peace of mind” that hospital staff are constantly looking out for without the need for him to go into hospital.
“Since I’ve had the sensor I’ve had no hospital admissions for almost two years. I would highly recommend this to other patients.”
The second phase of the clinical trial has just commenced and is open for patients with heart failure, who meet certain criteria and are being treated at the Heart Failure Clinic in GUH.
The technology has been developed by a US-based company called Endotronix. The trial has been running simultaneously in Ireland and Genk, Belgium
Dr Pat Nash, Consultant Cardiologist at GUH added that the coronavirus pandemic is forcing them to look for “new and innovative ways”
The success of this clinical trial can be measured in the improvements in the patients’ quality of life, the dramatic reduction in the need for hospitalisation and the enhanced role that the patients are able to play in their own care.”
“All of these successes are even more significant in light of the current public health measures and the need to protect patients with long-term underlying conditions.”