BACKGROUND: An easy-to-use in-home monitoring device for patients is changing the way doctors monitor the health of patients with implanted defibrillators. Rush University Medical Center, along with 18 others across the United States, is participating in a pilot study of the LATITUDE Patient Management system to determine if this wireless home monitoring system can decrease the number of hospitalizations for heart failure.
HOW IT WORKS: A mini-antenna built into the implanted defibrillator sends data to a wireless system placed in the patient's home. The data is automatically transmitted to a secure Internet server where the physician can access this medical information at any time, from any place. Unlike other remote devices, which only transmit data if certain parameters are out of range, the LATITUDE system uploads health information that can help physicians monitor the day-to-day changes in patients. In addition to the data stored before, during and after an arrhythmia, the system employs a wireless weight scale and blood pressure monitor to record vital statistics crucial for the management of cardiac failure patients. For instance, an abrupt change in weight could indicate worsening heart failure. So the same information that would normally require a visit to the doctor's office every few months can now be downloaded to the physician at any time without the patient ever leaving home. If the patient feels the defibrillator activate, he or she can transmit the rhythm information to their physician, who can quickly analyze the data to determine if the patient needs to be hospitalized.
HAVE A HEART: The heart pumps 5.6 liters of blood through the entire body in roughly 20 seconds; each day your blood travels some 12,000 miles, and your heart beats about 100,000 times. This delivers oxygen and other essential nutrients to the body's cells and organs. A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle is cut off, either because part of the heart is damaged (such as the valves to the chambers), or because plaque has built up inside the arteries, narrowing them and severely restricting blood flow. Symptoms of a heart attack include a squeezing discomfort in the center of the chest, pain or tingling in the left arm, shortness of breath, and sometimes a cold sweat, nausea, or dizziness.
ABOUT WIFI: Wireless, or "WiFi," technology and the Wireless Internet are a direct result of the staggering growth in cell phone use over the last decade. It is a system of connecting personal computers and other electronic devices in close physical proximity through high-frequency radio waves instead of wires or cables. The Wireless network is basically a series of linked transmitters and receivers. There are two main components in a traditional hub-and-spoke wireless network: wireless access points and wireless clients. Access points are base stations that are connected to the network at regular intervals to provide maximum coverage in a given region. Wireless clients are the network interfaces housed in computer devices that communicate with the access point.