The Basics of Heart Rate Monitors & Sensors
Heart failure is a serious medical problem in this world. In the United States alone, it affects more than 5 million people. In 2010, the estimated direct cost of heart failure in the United States alone was $39.2 billion. Additionally, acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) is the leading cause of hospitalization among people aged over 65. In the past decade, implants for devices regulating cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) have been developed to optimize heart attack management.
The Basics of Implantable Sensors
Heart disease management can be defined in terms of a “sensor” and an “effector.” Regarding implantable sensors, the “sensor” is the element attached to a device that helps detect a change and signals to an “effector” to initiate a response. Traditionally, the heart rate of the patient is monitored by the health care provider during face-to-face contact. However, this can pose challenges and complications like poor sensitivity of symptoms and physical examination findings for detecting early destabilization. Implantable sensors are useful in the fact they provide continuous monitoring, no bias of subjective assessment, and provide a unique way for patient-specific heart rate information.
The Four Components of a Remote Monitoring System
The most commonly used implantable sensors are the remote controlled sensors. The remote-controlled monitoring systems can be divided into four different components.
- The first component is the actual cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device.
- The CRT device is connected to the programmer, a manufacturer-specific device that receives and transmits information via telemetry from CRT devices. The great thing about the programmer of a CRT device is that it can be reprogrammed via the programmer to alter its behavior.
- The communicator is the aspect of the system that transmits the data from the patient’s home to the service center through cellular technology.
- The final aspect is the remote monitor system, which uses wireless technology to allow continuous surveillance of the device and the patient sensing parameters. This includes events and data that can be transmitted immediately to the patient’s device server and be flagged for attention. Many hospitals and health care centers provide these servers. Some examples include Boston Scientific Latitude, Biotronik Home Monitoring, and St. Jude Merlin.net system.
Three Main Types of CRT Sensors
Every CRT device also has sensors that can monitor a patient’s hemodynamic (blood flow) and fluid status. There are three main types of sensors:
- Hemodynamic sensors detect the changes earlier in the disease process, including pressures in the cardiac chamber, pulmonary arterial pressure, and measures of cardiac contractility.
- The second type of sensor is the biochemical sensor. These specific sensors measure for mixed venous oxygen saturation as well as RV pressure.
- Lastly, electrical parameter sensors measure variables such as a patient’s physical activity level and heart rate variability.
The Takeaway: Heart Rate Monitors Will Increase
Heart rate monitors are allowing sufferers of heart diseases to monitor their heart conditions in an efficient way, and more importantly, in real-time. New sensors are currently in development to monitor even more aspects of the human heart. These advances would only propel more patients with heart conditions to implement heart rate monitors into their lives.