NEWARK, Del. (WPVI) -- A rising number of Americans have heart failure, making well over a million hospital visits a year.
With a tiny implantable device, many patients can stay out of the hospital and have a better daily life.
At first, Dwayne Robinson wasn't fazed by shortness of breath since it didn't really affect his work.
"I could throw a loveseat on my shoulder and walk down the street with it. So i didn't think anything was wrong," Robinson says.
Over time, Robinson's doctors realized his breathing episodes weren't due to asthma, but congestive heart failure.
When the heart doesn't pump well, blood backs up and fluid builds up in the lungs, putting even more of a burden on the heart.
"Heart failure patients are very fragile. They can go from one day feeling absolutely fine, and then all of a sudden, they're really short of breath," says Linda Ruppert, the Heart Failure Program coordinator at Temple Health's Heart and Vascular Institute.
Heart failure specialist Dr. Sanjana Bhatia-Patel says preventing fluid buildup is key.
Daily weights, heart rate and blood pressure checks help.
However, CardioMEMS, a tiny electronic sensor, detects it before patients have any symptoms.
"These are the little wing ends," says Ruppert holding up the tiny device.
Dr. Bhatia-Patel thinks CardioMEMS is a game-changer in care, allowing patients to be monitored almost anywhere.
"It sits inside your pulmonary artery, and patients have to lay on a pillow. And that pillow is what reads the device and transmits it," she notes.
"I look at those readings once or twice a week to look for the pressures, to see if there's any elevation," says Ruppert.
That data reduces extra office visits.
"Over the phone, we're able to adjust their diuretic therapy," Dr. Bhatia-Patel says.
"So I can still keep on with my regular day," adds Robinson.
And those adjustments keep patients like Robinson out of the hospital.
"There's over a 50% decrease in hospitalizations with using this device - over 50%," says Ruppert.
"I don't remember the last time I had to go to the hospital for fluid overload from my CHF," notes Robinson.
The Temple team says CardioMEMS monitoring gives patients peace of mind, knowing they're not alone in managing their heart failure.