Hospital offers monitoring for cardiac care

November 22, 2004

Heart disease affects one in five individuals in the United States. Because heart disease is so common, Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center strives to provide enhanced cardiac care services using the latest technology available.

McDowell hospital has recently invested in new holter monitoring equipment and also launched a new program serving the needs of individuals who experience congestive heart failure, which is the number one reason for adults age 65 and older to be hospitalized.

"Because a large percentage of our patients come to us with heart problems, we want to be able to provide them with the quality services they need to help them manage their illness," said Barry Michael, president at McDowell hospital.

He added, "Individuals in the communities we serve can take comfort knowing that quality cardiac care services are available close to their home."


McDowell hospital's new holter monitoring equipment is enhancing physicians' ability to diagnose and treat heart disease. A holter monitor is a device that a patient wears on their waistband for 24 hours. The monitor uses electrodes attached to the patient's chest to record the heart's electrical activity for 24 hours while the patient performs their usual activities at home or at work.

The local hospital has used holter monitoring equipment for years, but the newest equipment is easier to use and more convenient for patients because the monitoring device is smaller (just a bit larger than a pager) than what was previously used.

"The new equipment is also capturing better information about the heart's activity than what was recorded with the older equipment," said Shelly Selby, director of cardiopulmonary services.

Report forwarded to patient's physician

The information recorded by the monitor is sent to a computer, which generates a report forwarded to the patient's physician.

With the new monitoring equipment, McDowell hospital can also use event recorders to further monitor the health status of individuals with heart disorders. The event recorder is worn for 30 days and activated by the patient when they feel their heart beating irregularly. The recording assists the patient's physician in diagnosing arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, in the patient's heart.

As director of cardiopulmonary services, Selby is overseeing the new Heart Failure Education Program. That program is helping individuals with heart failure to manage their disease so that they can enjoy a better quality of life.

The program uses a multidisciplinary approach for managing heart failure in patients. Services include frequent follow-up on patients, support to patients and their families, patient education and assistance with medical prescriptions.

"The heart failure program takes a 'whole person' approach in the treatment of patients," Selby said.

Patients must be referred for services by their physician.

"Through the heart failure program, we are making a huge impact in the quality of life of our patients who have congestive heart failure," Selby said.

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