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Studying Fluid Overflow in Patients With Devices

Mon, 09/19/2011 - 4:33am
Bio-Medicine.Org

BOSTON, Sept. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The 15th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) will feature a session entitled "Late Breaking Trials," which will highlight recent studies relating to heart failure.

Dr. D.J. van Veldhuisen, from The UMC Groningen, The Netherlands, will discuss a recent study of heart failure patients who are hospitalized with fluid overflow in the heart.  Fluid builds up in the heart, and the heart is unable to manage the increase in fluid, which results in patients requiring a hospital stay to correct the issue. This problem can cause weight gain, fatigue and shortness of breath.

The study focused on strategies for early detection of fluid overflow in order to avoid lengthy and costly hospital stays.  Doctors studied 350 patients who had implantable cardioverter defibrillators with or without cardiac resynchronization, and these were fitted with diagnostic systems to monitor intrathoracic impedance, which reflects fluid in the chest, a sign of (impeding) decompensation.  The systems are designed to emit a beep when fluid levels reach a certain threshold, signaling the patient to contact their doctor.

Doctors sought to determine if these systems would provide detection early enough to prevent the need for later hospitalization. The patients who were fitted with active diagnostic systems actually saw an increase in hospital visits, rather than the decrease doctors had hoped for.

As Dr. van Veldhuisen points out, patients may have become nervous about the alarm going off, which resulted in visits to the hospital rather than a phone call to their doctor. Dr. van Veldhuisen also notes that the human body naturally fluctuates from day to day, so the question becomes how quickly should doctors respond to slight changes

"Early detection of fluid buildup is the key to reducing hospital stays and improving quality of life for patients," said Dr. van Veldh

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