Remote Monitoring For Heart Patients During Coronavirus Pandemic- Why It Is Important
Remote cardiac monitoring, or remote heart monitoring, is a method by which information from a patient's implantable rhythm management device (pacemaker) can be communicated directly to the cardiac electrophysiologist (doctor) to review a patient's heart activity.
Remote monitoring is a powerful tool for off-site cardiac rhythm management
- Remote monitoring helps in accurately diagnosing heart arrhythmias
- Remote monitoring is not an alternative to emergency service
- But it is safe and convenient to monitor patient's heart activity
On a regular day at the hospital, several patients undergo treatment and check-up for heart ailments. However, since the outbreak of COVID-19, patients have been avoiding hospital visits and medical consultations due to concerns on health and safety. Even with the lockdown being eased in certain parts of the country, people are cautious about venturing out to protect themselves against incidentally contracting the infection. While tele-consultation is being widely used by patients for seeking medical intervention without visiting the doctor, in-person, in certain patients like those with heart rhythm disorders (cardiac arrythmia), regular intervention is required. This is because, monitoring the heart rhythm for detecting any abnormality plays a crucial role in treating and managing arrythmias. Cardiac arrythmia patients who have undergone device implantations such as pacemakers especially require constant monitoring both from the doctor and patient's end. It is in such situations that technologies like remote monitoring enable heart patients with implants to monitor their heart rhythm within the comfort of their homes. Remote monitoring also makes it possible for the patient to transfer medical information about their condition to the doctor without meeting them in-person.
How does remote monitoring work?
Remote cardiac monitoring, or remote heart monitoring, is a method by which information from a patient's implantable rhythm management device (pacemaker) can be communicated directly to the cardiac electrophysiologist (doctor) to review a patient's heart activity. Remote monitoring is a powerful tool for off-site cardiac rhythm management. It works through a transmitter which syncs with the patient's implanted device, collecting data about the heart's activity such as its rate and rhythm. The transmitter then sends the information by way of a secure website to the electrophysiologist for assessment and evaluation. This syncing and transmission can happen overnight, while the patient is asleep.
Benefits of remote monitoring
Remote monitoring offers doctors the benefit to effectively manage their patients and reduces the time taken to detect abnormalities. The technology also helps in precise and accurate diagnosis to treat and manage arrhythmias with efficacy. For patients, it provides them the comfort, flexibility and security of communicating critical information about their medical condition directly to the electrophysiologist at any time of the day, without seeing them in-person. Patients with remote monitoring devices have a probability of survival that is nearly two and a half times greater than those without it. According to European Heart Journal, in case of remote monitoring, there is greater than 65% reduction in hospitalization and nearly 80% reduction in the time taken to detect fatalities and initiate timely action.
How it can help amidst the current pandemic
Despite its effectiveness, remote monitoring is significantly underutilized and can be used to reduce the need for hospital visits especially during the current situation. It can alleviate the fear of heart patients with devices during this pandemic, reduce their anxiety and avoid unnecessary follow-up visits to the hospital. Although remote monitoring is not an alternative to emergency service, but it is a safe, convenient and effective means which helps doctors to detect the patient's heart's activity and decide if medical intervention is needed.
Precautionary measures to be followed by patients with cardiac arrythmia:
1. Avoid contact with people and keep a 2 metre distance from others.
2. Eat a well-balanced diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables to strengthen the body and avoid extra sugar.
3. Practice breathing and meditation exercises to avoid feelings of anxiety.
4. If you notice that your irregular heart rhythm occurs more often with certain activities, you should avoid them.
5. If you have symptoms of fever (a temperature of 37.8 degree Celsius or above) cough or a chest infection you should self-isolate.
(Dr Balbir Singh, Chairman and Head PAN Max Cardiology, MAX super Specialty Hospital, Saket)
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