Rescue Technology Finds Fluid Build-up Fast in Heart Failure Patients
High-powered technology created by the Israeli military to see through walls of rubble is being deployed by Einstein Healthcare Network to see through chest walls of patients with heart failure.
Einstein will be the first hospital in Philadelphia to use a special vest that can look through the chest wall to determine whether fluid has begun to build up in the lungs of a heart failure patient. The Remote Dielectric Sensing (ReDS™) vest uses electromagnetic technology to measure lung fluid in 90 seconds. It can detect fluid build-up even before a patient has symptoms.
The vest was adapted from technology created by the Israeli military to find and rescue victims buried under debris. It is patented by Sensible Medical, an Israeli company.
“This technology will provide a ‘fifth vital sign’ for our high-risk heart failure patients, which will assist the clinician to escalate therapy when needed,” said Behnam Bozorgnia, MD, director of Einstein’s Advanced Heart Failure Program. The goal is to avoid another hospital admission, he said.
When the heart can’t pump effectively, blood can back up into the veins in the lungs. If the veins leak, a patient can develop shortness of breath and chest pain and wind up in the hospital. A study published in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that use of the vest accounted for an 87 percent reduction in hospital readmissions of heart failure patients.
Hospitals are financially penalized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for readmissions that occur within 30 days of discharge.
“One way to keep patients from being readmitted to the hospital is to catch the symptoms of heart failure before the patient experiences an exacerbation,” Dr. Bozorgnia said. “Using the ReDS™ vest, clinicians are able to measure lung fluid content and adjust treatment for each individual patient with heart failure, well before the heart failure symptoms occur.”
The vest, which is put on over light clothing, is a noninvasive method of measuring fluid in the lungs. It will be used initially in Einstein’s Outpatient Heart Failure Clinic. Fluid also can be measured by listening with a stethoscope, measuring weight, taking chest x-rays or using an implantable device.
Nearly six million people in the United States have heart failure, a condition that’s increasing as the population ages and more people survive heart attacks. The annual cost of treatment is $30.7 billion.
Dr. Bozorgnia and his team received a grant from the Albert Einstein Society, the health system’s internal foundation, to purchase the vest. “Our pillar goals will always emphasize quality and finance by providing outstanding innovative care in the most fiscally responsible way possible,” he said.
Photo of Donna Moser, a nurse in the heart failure clinic, by Jill Porter