Stopping strokes before the occur, new technology may help

Using technology to track stroke risk and stopping strokes before they occur. A stealth device just approved by the FDA and implanted in a patient this week may help doctors better identify those at risk.

Dr. Rod Passman, Northwestern Medicine: “The device is about a third of the size of a triple ‘A’ battery.

It looks like something out of a sci-fi movie … but this device isn’t a work of fiction.

Dr. Passman: “Before this, we were using a larger version of the device about six times the size.”

Compared to its bulky predecessor, this tiny cardiac monitor slips under the skin through a syringe. It rests close to the heart.

Dr. Passman: “I think that this technology is really meant to do detective work. There are many people who have a problem, who have infrequent passing out spells, or may have had an event like a stroke. And we can’t figure out if, whether in fact, a cardiac rhythm abnormality played a role. The difficulty is, is that this rhythm could come and go, and can be entirely asymptomatic. So your doctor putting an EKG on you or having you wear a monitor for a day or two, may fail to pick it up.”

That’s where the Reveal LINQ may help. Once inserted, the device monitors a patient’s heart 24 hours a day then wirelessly transmits a nightly report to a bedside transponder. If there’s no activity, there’s no alert. But if the device detects an abnormal heart rhythm …

Dr. Passman: “We can get an email, we can get a text, the patient can get an email or a text, and the patient, when they wake up in the morning, will have a little message on the bedside transponder that an event has occurred and you should contact your healthcare professional.”

Northwestern Medicine cardiac electrophysiologist Rod Passman studied the device in a clinical trial and learned, about a third of patients have an abnormal rhythm that likely contributed to their stroke.

Dr. Passman: “And we have wonderful medications, blood thinners that can reduce the risk of stroke in patients who have abnormal rhythms. So finding those abnormal rhythms are really very important and I think that our ability to do so has been greatly expanded by the release of this new device.

The device’s battery life lasts three years, and Dr. Passman is already looking forward to the next generation of insertable monitors that will communicate in real time with your smart phone.

For more information about the Medtronic Reveal LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM) System
or the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, call (312) NM-HEART or visit heart.nmh.org.

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