The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough has become the first in the UK to implant a new miniature wireless heart monitor.
Cardiologist Nick Linker was the first to insert the Medtronic Reveal LINQ™ device which will primarily be used to help pinpoint why a patient is suffering blackouts or an irregular heartbeat.
Traditionally doctors would have implanted a loop recorder the size of a USB stick into a patient’s chest to monitor their heart rate. These devices record on a loop system for up to three years.
If the patient experienced a blackout they would then use a separate device to freeze the recording which could then be assessed by a consultant at the hospital.
The new monitor offers all the same benefits but is a tenth of the size of the traditional loop recorder, making it much more comfortable and less noticable under the skin – it is nearly invisible to the naked eye in most patients.
On top of this it talks wirelessly to a receiver in the patient’s house which, when the patient is near to it, automatically transmits any unusual heart activity via a wireless 3G signal to a secure system that can be accessed instantly by the heart team at the hospital who can then contact the patient if they need to see them.
It also comes complete with its own implant kit which means there’s no need for surgical kit and scalpels. The procedure requires an incision of less than 1cm which can then simply be glued back together.
It is hoped that in the future it could be performed in just 10 minutes in a treatment room rather than in a theatre setting.
Dr Linker said it was fantastic to be the first in the UK to implant the new device: “From my perspective it was a much simpler and quicker procedure and it was very easy to do.
“From a patient’s point of view the device is much smaller so it is more comfortable and you get a much better cosmetic result. And because it does everything the previous device did it is a winner all round.”
Trudie Lobban, chief executive and founder of the Arrhythmia Alliance welcomed the use of the new device for diagnosing patients with irregular heartbeats: “For 50% of people with atrial fibrillation there are no symptoms that suggest that they may have an arrhythmia.
“While we are fortunate that there are number of treatments and interventions for treating these conditions, the problem is finding those patients before they arrive at the hospital with a life threatening condition.”