First Wi-Fi pacemaker in US gives patient freedom

Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:42pm EDT
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By Ben Gruber

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - After relying on a pacemaker for 20 years, Carol Kasyjanski has become the first American recipient of a wireless pacemaker that allows her doctor to monitor her health from afar -- over the Internet.

When Kasyjanski heads to St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, New York, for a routine check-up, about 90 percent of the work has already been done because her doctor logged into his computer and learned most of what he needed to know about his patient.

Three weeks ago Kasyjanski, 61, became the first person in the United States to be implanted with a pacemaker with a wireless home monitoring system that transmits critical information to her doctor via the Internet.

Kasyjanski, who has suffered from a severe heart condition for more than 20 years, says the device has given her renewed confidence and a new lease of life, because if her pacemaker were to malfunction or stop working, only immediate action would save her life.

"Years ago the problem was with my lead, it was nicked, and until I collapsed no one knew what the problem was, no tests would show what the problem was until I passed out," she told Reuters Television.

Dr. Steven Greenberg, the director of St. Francis' Arrhythmia and Pacemaker Center, said the new technology helps him better treat his patients and will likely become the new standard in pacemakers.

He said the server and the remote monitor communicate at least once a day to download all the relevant information and alert the doctor and patient if there is anything unusual.

"If there is anything abnormal, and we have a very intricate system set up, it will literally call the physician responsible at two in the morning if need be," he said.   Continued...

<p>A woman is reflected in the heart monitor she is hooked up to in the emergency room at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, Texas, July 27, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi</p>