By Guest Blogger
Dr. Nicholas Skipitaris
Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC, Associate Professor of Cardiology at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine
Every day I treat patients with heart disease and I always have the same goal—provide the best possible quality of care to help my patients live a long, healthy, fulfilling life. To do this, I must remain focused on constantly improving patient care. That means I have a responsibility to my patients to be aware of the latest medical advancements, technologies, devices and clinical data.
In recent years, the FDA has approved several cardiac rhythm management devices with differentiators designed to ensure the patient care journey far exceeds device implantation. Today, ICDs and pacemakers are available with technologies that provide home monitoring, advanced diagnostics with minimal hardware and physiologic rate-adaptive technology. Another critical advancement for patients is the FDA approval of ICDs and pacemakers that are proven safe for use during MRI—magnetic resonance imaging—scans.
This is important information that patients suffering from heart disease must know. Nearly four million people in the United States live with cardiac devices that are contraindicated for MRI. This needs to change.
Patients deserve better.
Historically, patients with ICDs or pacemakers have been denied access to MRI scans due to the potential impact of the magnetic fields used during scans. Magnetic fields can cause the metal devices to malfunction causing harm to the patient. This limitation has created a patient population of millions that do not have safe, reimbursable access to the imaging scans necessary to effectively diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries involving soft tissues in the heart, brain, muscles and liver. Heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and many other diseases rely on MRI to diagnose, track progression and monitor the impact of treatment.
Patients now have access to better.
Today, ICDs and pacemakers are available that have been tested and deemed safe and effective by the FDA for use during MRI scans. This is a significant step in the constant journey of improving patient care. It is estimated that 75 percent of patients with implantable electronic devices will need an MRI in their lifetime. It is critical that physicians and patients continue to understand how today’s healthcare choices impact tomorrow’s care. It isn’t enough to just focus on implanted a device. We must look beyond and help ensure patients will be cared for as healthcare needs arise in the future.
Patients, caregivers and physicians need to be having conversations about devices that ensure patient care exceeds beyond the implant. I encourage you to share this story with your friends and loved ones, and to speak with your physician during your next appointment to help start the conversation.
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