Bluetooth Technology Facilitates Interactive Patient Care

Texas Health Fort Worth becomes first hospital in Tarrant County to offer innovative technology

FORT WORTH, Texas – December 1, 2017 — Paul Johnson suffered from a widow-maker, one of the most common and most lethal kinds of heart attack, last November. He now has a Bluetooth loop recorder that constantly monitors his heart rhythm, looking for signs of danger. Unlike most cardiac monitors, the one Johnson has connects to his smartphone and his cardiologist’s phone. It also eliminates the use of the handheld, remote activator and the home monitor that normally updates at night when a patient sleeps.

Texas Health Fort Worth is the first hospital in Tarrant County to offer the innovative technology to patients.

“It’s pretty amazing, what this thing does. I don’t have to go in for multiple doctor visits,” Johnson said. “The information is at my fingertips and the doctor’s. My heart rhythm is documented and we both have access to critical information whenever we need it.”

The Bluetooth implantable loop recorder is an electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring device that’s placed underneath the skin and used with patients who suffer from sporadic heart palpitations or unexplained blackouts. Some examples would be myocardial infarction, aortic dissection, pulmonary hypertension and even atrial fibrillation (a-fib).

When Johnson turned 83, he decided to start scheduled visits with a cardiologist. With no major pain to speak of, Johnson went on his first scheduled visit with his cardiologist on Nov. 29, 2016. Less than 24 hours later, he was undergoing open-heart surgery.

“I had a widow-maker, believe it or not. I was in shock,” Johnson said. “Imagine going in for a doctor’s visit with no aches and pains, only to have open-heart surgery hours later.”

After surgery, Johnson completed cardiac rehabilitation, but doctors discussed implanting the Bluetooth loop recorder in his chest as a cautionary approach to monitor his heart rhythm. “They told me I’d be the first in Tarrant County to receive it, so I said, ‘Let’s go ahead and do it. I don’t want to waste any time.’”

Taking less than five minutes to implant, the Bluetooth loop recorder continuously records the patient’s heart rhythms, immediately notifying the doctor of any abnormalities. The device even allows patients like Johnson to send notes to his doctors if he senses something is wrong or has abnormal symptoms. With other devices, patients have to update information each night using a radio-frequency-based bedside transmitter. The new device even provides Johnson with automatic notifications for device checks and scheduled transmissions.

“In essence, this innovative, wireless technology helps the patient and the physician,” said Dr. Farhan Ali, an interventional cardiologist on the Texas Health Fort Worth medical staff.

According to Ali, the device allows the patient to review past heart rhythms and even symptom history. It empowers the patient and also eliminates delayed responses to their inquiries. The questions a patient might ask during a scheduled visit can be answered immediately using the device.

“It also provides me with immediate patient information, all in the palm of my hand, on my phone,” Ali said.

Johnson was implanted with the technology on Nov. 21 at Texas Health Fort Worth. He’s thankful to have it, because there’s a chance he’ll be affected by another cardiac episode in the future.

Heart disease is prevalent in his family.

“I remember one of my cousins said to me, ‘You’ve got the Johnson heart,’ meaning that’s not a good thing.”

Johnson’s father, along with eight of his father’s nine siblings died from sudden, heart-related conditions.

“At my age and with my family history,” he said, “it just feels good to know you’re alive.”

To learn more, visit Texas Health Fort Worth heart & vascular services for information about cardiac care.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health systems in the United States. The health system, which along with UT Southwestern founded Southwestern Health Resources in 2016 to make it easier for North Texans to access the highest quality care consistently in a responsive and coordinated manner, includes 29 hospital locations that are owned, operated, joint-ventured or affiliated with Texas Health Resources. It includes Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Huguley Hospitals, Texas Health Physicians Group, outpatient facilities, behavioral health and home health, preventive and fitness services, and an organization for medical research and education. For more information about Texas Health Resources, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit www.TexasHealth.org.

SOURCE: Texas Health