Boston Scientific announced this week the release of data from the first 10,000 patients enrolled in their RAPID-RF study. Of course the announcement is everywhere – the actual data is no where to be found (perhaps the results printed on dead trees are available at the Heart Rhythm Society meeting this week).

The idea here (pioneered by Biotronik, by the way) is that wireless connectivity can be used to communicate clinically significant events to the physician between pacemaker clinic follow ups. Theoretically this informaiton could trigger interventions before regularly scheduled follow ups that can result in better patient care and outcomes. From the press release:

Of the 56,000 monitoring months included
in the 10,000-patient population over a mean follow-up of five months,
the LATITUDE Patient Management system detected 597 patients with
sustained atrial arrhythmias for more than 24 hours and 968 patients
who received shock therapy for spontaneous ventricular arrhythmias.

“The ability to detect and notify clinicians of these types of
events sooner can impact patient outcomes,” said Leslie A. Saxon, M.D.,
Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of
Southern California, and national Co-Principal Investigator for the
RAPID-RF Study that is characterizing types of clinical event
notifications and interventions with the wireless system. “For example,
patients with atrial fibrillation, particularly those with heart
failure are at risk of stroke. Early identification of this arrhythmia,
which may be asymptomatic, enables physicians to intervene with
treatments to mitigate this risk.”

So apparently the benefits of notification of clinicians before regularly scheduled follow ups is still theoretical. Boston Scientific goes on to brag, “Boston Scientific has the only remote patient
management system that is capable of monitoring virtually all its
implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and cardiac
resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRT-D) patients between
follow-ups, and alerting physicians to important clinical events
through either wireless or wanded technology.” While this carefully worded run on sentence may be literally true, Biotronik and Medtronic both have similar wireless capabilities. And St Jude announced yesterday their newest ICD and CRT-D devices that include limited wireless capabilities:

The wireless versions of the Current ICD and the Promote
CRT-D devices (with radiofrequency telemetry) have just received
European CE Mark approval. RF telemetry enables secure, remote
communication between the implanted device and the programmers in a
clinician's office. Wireless communication occurs while the device is
being implanted and when patients see physicians for follow-up visits,
allowing for safer, more convenient care and device management. The
feature is currently under review and is pending U.S. regulatory

Pictured right is Biotronik's CardioMessenger, the first with a wireless gateway for transmitting data inside and outside the patient's home.

[Hat tip: Wireless Healthcare]