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Device May Decrease HMFW Heart Failure Hospitalizations

FORT WORTH, Texas – Patients at high risk for heart failure now have access to a new treatment device that monitors and detects fluid buildup in the chest, a breakthrough that could decrease the number of hospital admissions for the nearly 400,000 Americans considered candidates for the use of this new technology.

Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital (HMFW) is the first hospital in Tarrant County to implant the Medtronic InSync Sentry cardiac defibrillator system outfitted with breakthrough technology that reads internal fluid levels, and one of only 100 hospitals nationwide selected to launch the new technology during its early release following approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November 2004. Since that time, physicians on the medical staff at HMFW have implanted 63 devices and are now able to closely monitor the internal fluid levels and heart failure risks of their patients.

About Heart Failure
Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart can not pump enough blood to the body's tissues and fluid may build-up in the lungs and other tissue. Patients may develop shortness of breath and swelling of extremities. Afflicting approximately five million Americans, heart failure is the No. 1 cause of hospital admissions, with most occurring as a result of fluid accumulation in the lungs resulting in difficulty breathing.

Individuals with serious heart disease are at risk for abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure. By combining new fluid-monitoring technology with a widely-used abnormal heart rhythm therapy called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), InSync Sentry can improve the pumping efficiency of the heart while also monitoring the fluid buildup that accompanies the condition.

Patients Benefit
This new internal monitoring system provides several important benefits to the patient with heart failure, according to Robert Meidell, M.D., medical director of cardiovascular services at HMFW.

“First, it can improve the efficiency of the heart pumping activity,” Dr. Meidell said. “Secondly, it monitors the heart's rhythm and is capable of treating certain life-threatening abnormalities of the heart's rhythm, and finally, it monitors and provides notification about fluid accumulation in the lungs, which may signal future worsening of heart failure symptoms.”

Fluid buildup and symptoms of worsening heart failure often go undetected until the patient is critically ill, and it is not unusual for patients to require hospitalization or urgent treatment in an emergency room for severe respiratory distress. With approximately 1 million hospitalizations each year for heart failure at a cost of an estimated $27.9 billion annually, early detection and intervention could mean fewer hospital admissions, fewer complications and cost savings for the patient, according to Dr. Meidell.

In 2004, more than 550 individuals were hospitalized at HMFW for heart failure and a number of those patients were hospitalized multiple times, a trend Dr. Meidell hopes will decrease with the use of the new device.

“Ideally, InSync Sentry will allow us to intervene early and alter patient medications to improve their status before their condition requires hospitalization,” he said. “It really can provide peace-of-mind for the patient and gives physicians the ability to be more proactive when treating heart failure.”

In May 2005, HMFW was named a winner of the prestigious Premier Award for Quality in the area of heart failure. This nationally-recognized award honors clinical excellence in both quality of care and operational efficiency, differentiating its winners as industry leaders that deliver outstanding patient care while reducing the cost of healthcare by improving resource utilization.

Kimberley R. Trull RN, MSN, CCRN, a cardiovascular education specialist at HMFW, accepted the award at the 2005 Premier Annual Breakthroughs Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas in May. HMFW earned the heart failure quality award for having top outcomes and high compliance with evidence-based processes, while being efficient with resources. “This recognition is especially meaningful because of how the efforts of the team benefit patients and families,” Trull said. “The team works very hard to help people have the treatment and education they need to understand and cope with a challenging chronic health condition so that they can try and enjoy their lives to their fullest potential.”

“The entire team is to be congratulated on this outstanding accomplishment,” said Dr. Robert Meidell, medical director for cardiovascular services at HMFW. “Physicians, nurses and other employees are constantly focused on delivering optimal care and improving the lives of patients. This award is a testament to the outstanding contributions they make year-round.”

In order to serve a growing community for generations to come, the hospital is building the Harris Methodist Heart Center, a 150,000 square-foot building which will house 100 new patient beds, four new surgery suites and four new cath labs. Opening in December, the $62 million project will redefine the landscape of Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital and cardiovascular care in Tarrant County.

For more information about quality at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, please call the hospital's quality hotline at (817) 810-7777, or go to

About Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital
A Magnet hospital celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital (HMFW) is Tarrant County's largest and busiest hospital and regional referral center. A member of Texas Health Resources, HMFW is licensed for 610 beds and provides the following services: cardiovascular; neurosciences; orthopedics and sports medicine; rehabilitation; adult critical care and neonatal intensive care; high risk and routine obstetrics and gynecology; trauma and emergency medicine; cancer care; medical/surgical; kidney transplants; occupational health; and more.

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