New monitor promises better diagnosis of heart problems

  • 0

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A small implantable device that records heart rhythm is now helping Suncoast patients get the right diagnosis. It’s called the Medtronic LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor, and it's a small, implantable device that sends vital information through a bedside monitor to Medtronic and then on to doctors.

“So all we do is we make a little incision up here in the skin, we numb that with numbing medicine and slowly slide this in under the skin,” says Dr. Jeff Rothfield M.D. of Manatee Memorial Hospital. “It takes about forty-five seconds.”

The device helps diagnose several conditions, including those that cause the sufferer to pass out for no apparent reason

“You have about a one in three chance over the next few years of figuring out if it was a rhythm problem that caused them to pass out, and then it gives you a chance to intervene and do a therapeutic maneuver that's going to make them better.”

If a cardiac or heart-related problem caused the loss of consciousness, the condition can then be treated appropriately -- whether the patient needs a pacemaker, defibrillator, ablation or a change in medicines to take care of a fast rhythm problem.

Dr., Rothfeld says the device helps diagnose cryptogenic strokes -- the kind where the cause is undiagnosed.

What you're looking for is rhythm problems, specifically atrial fibrillation.

The cause of stroke is unknown in about one in three patients entering the hospital, said Dr. Rothfeld. Management changes drastically if A-Fib is found, since it means the patient should start taking blood thinners to prevent future strokes.

Fred Metz is the first patient to receive the device on the Suncoast. He has A-Fib but says he hasn’t had an episode for a long time.

"I'm hoping that they discover that I no longer have it,” he says. “Then I'll no longer be on blood thinners."

The implant monitors heart rhythm for up to three years. Metz says the small size and convenience attracted him.

“I hardly knew they put it in,” Metz says. “It’s just a tiny little cut with local anesthetic and they pushed it in, and then all you could feel is a little pressure, but no pain."

Diagnosing palpitations and infrequent heart racing can be challenging -- sometimes the symptoms are life threatening, sometimes not.

“The most surefire way to figure out what's going on is to implant a monitor like this, and over the course of the next few months they'll have a few episodes and you'll know for certain what it is, and then you can decide what's the best way to treat it, or if they need treatment at all.”

Manatee Memorial Hospital is the first hospital in the state of Florida to implant this device, and the only one in Manatee County to offer it. Five of their patients now have the LINQ.