WEDNESDAY, Oct. 22, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- People with advanced heart failure who used a daily monitoring system to report any changes in weight or symptoms to their doctors had much lower death rates than patients who didn't use the monitoring system.
That's what a national study in the current issue of the American Heart Journal found.
The study included about 300 patients at eight cardiac transplant centers and eight community-based cardiology medical practices. All the patients received standard medical care; 138 of them also used the AlereNet daily monitoring system, an electronic scale and personalized response mechanism linked to their home telephone line.
The patients using the monitoring system were instructed to weigh themselves and to answer a set of five questions tailored to their individual symptoms twice a day. That information was sent via phone line to a control center, where it was reviewed by nurses once each day.
The people in the standard care group who didn't use the monitoring system were told to weigh themselves daily and keep a log of their weight gains and losses. They were instructed to contact their doctor about weight increases above a prescribed amount or about any worsening symptoms of their heart failure.
Over six months, the group using the monitoring system had 11 deaths compared with 26 deaths in the standard care group. That represents a 56 percent difference in death rates.
"The findings were a surprise," principal investigator Dr. Lee R. Goldberg, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, says in a prepared statement.
"We set out to determine whether the rate of hospitalization for patients who reported their weight and symptoms of health-care personnel on a daily basis might be lower than the rate for unmonitored patients. Instead, we found the hospitalization rates were essentially the same for both groups -- but there was a striking disparity in their mortality rates over the period of the study," Goldberg says.
"We are not certain what caused the disparity in mortality rates. But the sole difference in the two groups appears to be the daily monitoring by trained nurses in the AlereNet group, which means those patients may have been more likely to benefit from rapid medical intervention," Goldberg adds.
The study was funded by Alere Medical Inc., which manufactures the monitoring system.
Here's where you can learn more about heart failure.