Chris Kiepke has battled heart disease his entire life. The 43-year-old father of two has had four open heart surgeries and multiple hospitalizations for heart failure. “By the time I feel my symptoms, I need to go to the hospital,” he said. “It’s too late to turn it around at home.”
But thanks to Providence Heart Institute’s Center for Advanced Heart Disease, which benefits from significant donor support, Chris received a mobile early warning system. The center implanted a tiny device in one of his arteries. The device records data on his heart rate and pulmonary blood pressure, transmitting it wirelessly each day to his Providence Heart caregivers and cardiologist, Jacob Abraham, M.D. If Dr. Abraham sees a problem developing, he calls Chris to adjust his treatment.
Dr. Abraham is medical director of the Center for Advanced Heart Disease, which cares for nearly 100 patients using the mobile devices. “We can do a lot to improve the lives of people with heart failure and heart transplants by adjusting their medications, diet, and exercise. But, as with Chris, the key is ongoing monitoring and early detection,” he said. “This technology gives us the timely information we need to help people stay healthy and out of the hospital.”
Providence Heart is exploring other mobile technology to make care more responsive and accessible. Cardiologist Xiaoyan Huang, M.D., is leading a grant-funded pilot study to determine whether Twistle, a mobile app that sends daily advice and self-care reminders, can improve outcomes for other high-risk heart failure patients. “The goal is to help patients do better self-care, feel better and avoid hospitalization,” she said.
In another grant-funded pilot, Providence Heart is testing whether an app called TickerFit can encourage participation in cardiac rehabilitation, boost at-home exercise, and make rehab accessible to patients whose schedule or location doesn’t allow them to visit a cardiac rehab center regularly. “We know cardiac rehab works,” said Charlotte Douglas, manager of Providence Heart Institute’s cardiac rehab programs. “The question now is ‘How can we make it work for more people?’”
Chris has avoided hospitalization since he received his monitor. He is grateful for the care he has received from the Center for Advanced Heart Failure and is speaking out about the options emerging for people with heart issues, options frequently made possible by generous donors. “People should know that, even if you have pretty bad heart failure, there are choices coming that can really improve your living.”