Heart failure is one of the most common conditions in the US—over 6 million US adults suffer from the condition. For heart failure patients, telehealth and remote patient monitoring are fantastic tools that enable provider connection, symptom management, condition education, and medication compliance.

This blog will discuss the Bluetooth devices that can assist with heart failure management, as well as the benefits of telehealth monitoring for heart failure patients

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure, or congestive heart failure (CHF), occurs when an individual's heart muscle does not pump blood as well as it should, due to a weak or stiff heart. It happens when the heart can not pump enough blood and oxygen to support other organs in the body.

For heart failure patients to live long and healthy lives, it is essential that they control their symptoms and engage with their health on a daily basis.  They must make the lifestyle changes necessary to control their symptoms. Lifestyle changes may include less sodium intake, more exercise, less alcohol, and a managed weight.

Individuals without heart failure, but at risk, such as individuals with coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity, must also focus on improving their lifestyle to control their symptoms. By controlling their symptoms, they will be more likely to avoid the onset of heart failure.

The Role of Remote Monitoring in Heart Failure Management

Remote monitoring is a tool patients can use to better manage their health and participate in their healthcare, it is a form of telehealth that uses technology to facilitate the exchange of information, such as a bluetooth physiological measurement from the patient to the clinical team, in real-time. 

On a scheduled or as needed cadence, patient’s transmit their measurements via Bluetooth devices, enabling their clinician to understand changes in symptoms and intervene accordingly. 

For clinicians, remote monitoring provides a holistic picture into a patient’s health over time, and increases visibility into a patient’s adherence to their treatment. It allows for timely intervention should a symptom exacerbation occur.  

Telemonitoring for patients with heart failure can help the clinical team identify and respond to changes in the patients health status that might otherwise lead to an acute or emergent issue that requires an emergency department or office visit. 

When the clinician receives the Bluetooth physiological measurement, they are able to communicate with the patient directly to understand why the change occurred and prescribe the next action. 

Examples of Remote Monitoring Devices for Heart Failure

Through at home monitoring with Bluetooth devices, the patient is able to keep close tabs on their heart rhythm, monitor fluid retention and manage their blood pressure. 

When the clinician has a more holistic view into the patient’s symptoms day-to-day, they’re able to react to changes that might be early indicators of an emergent issue that requires intervention.

  • Heart monitor - a heart monitor captures and displays the heart’s performance, allowing the clinician to understand if a patient’s heart is performing as it should. 
  • Blood pressure cuff - hypertension is the most prevalent modifiable risk factor for the development of heart failure. When an individual with heart failure does not have their BP under control, they are more likely to experience poor outcomes. By using a blood pressure cuff consistently, the patient can effectively control and reduce their symptoms associated with high BP.
  • Scale -   A sudden increase in weight, even a small one, can be an early warning of a worsening condition that can lead to major health complications – scales help detect small fluctuations in weight that a patient may not notice themselves.
  • Pulse Oximeter - the pulse oximeter estimates the oxygen saturation of the blood and the pulse rate. For some patients with heart failure, low oxygen saturation levels are a common symptom. 
  • Wearables - consistent exercise and movement is important for heart failure patients. Wearables, such as the FitBit, allow patients to build a routine and track their exercise daily.

4 Benefits of Remote Monitoring for Heart Failure

Remote monitoring facilitates improved connection between the patient and their clinical team, resulting in many benefits for the patient including:

  1. Reduced rates of acute exacerbation- remote monitoring helps keep heart failure patients out of the hospital by helping the patient improve their symptoms and understand their condition. It helps patients avoid unnecessary ED visits by facilitating timely clinician intervention.
  2. Allows patients to stay in their home environment - remote monitoring allows patients to remain at home, where they want to be. It causes little interruption to their lives, and allows patients to establish a consistent daily routine.
  3. Better engagement and connection between the patient and clinician - with remote monitoring, the patient interacts with their clinician frequently, as opposed to just at the clinic visit. The clinician is able to see a continuous picture into the patient’s condition which in turn aids the clinician in understanding symptom trends.
  4. Improves patient engagement and self-symptom management - remote monitoring helps patients understand their condition to be able to identify personal red flags to watch for. It helps them engage in their own care while encouraging and reinforcing positive lifestyle changes.

Leveraging heart failure remote monitoring is an innovative solution that can improve patient outcomes and quality of life. For heart failure patients, symptom management and lifestyle modification is essential. Remote monitoring tools help patients not only manage their condition on a day-to-day basis, but also understand their condition and have more control over their health.

Up Next: HRS Remote Monitoring Solutions