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MEDICA 2016 Background Article No. 2

Suffering from a Heart Condition, but Safe at Home
Telemedicine Prevents Death and Hospital Stays

Telemedicine could save hundreds of heart patients from a hospital stay each day. Studies show that digital, around-the-clock care can greatly improve life expectancy and quality of life. Experts see telecardiology as a promising early-warning system to improve the quality of care in heart patients – particularly in rural regions. How digital applications will shape the future of cardiology will be discussed by experts on November 16, 2016 at the MEDICA EDUCATION CONFERENCE 2016 during the MEDICA trade fair, World Forum for Medicine (November 14 – 17, 2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany).

Approximately 1.2 million people in Germany suffer from heart failure. With around 1,000 in-patient admissions per day, this disease is the most common reason for hospital stays. “Many chronic diseases worsen without noticeable symptoms, until suddenly an emergency situation develops”, says Prof. Dr. med. Friedrich Köhler, Head of the Center for Cardiovascular Telemedicine at the Berlin Charité hospital. In most cases, these deteriorations can be measured before reaching this stage.

This also applies to heart failure: By using telecardiology, says Prof. Dr. Köhler, disease progression can be observed and intervened at an early stage. To this end, patients under telemedical care either receive measuring devices for their homes (e.g. tele-scales and tele-ECG), or data from pre-existing telemedical therapeutic implants (e.g. implanted defibrillators) can be used for therapy management. New developments include diagnostic implants specifically developed for telemedical therapy management, which can, for example, measure the pressure of the pulmonary arteries in the lung circulation of the patient. Based on these values, a cardiologist can, if necessary, individually adjust drug dosage, have the patient come in for a consultation, or order an immediate hospitalization. “Thanks to this digital early warning system, we can care for heart patients around the clock and spare them from unnecessary doctor´s visits or even hospital stays,” added Prof. Dr. Köhler.

Patient’s treatment could be improved, particularly in rural regions where a trip to the cardiologist often means a long trip. The aim of telemedicine is not to replace doctor´s visits, emphasizes Prof. Dr. Köhler: “A sole telemedical care is not allowed in Germany and would be undesirable from a medical point of view.”

The fact, that telecardiology can increase life expectancy and quality of life was shown by two large clinical trials. In the CHAMPION study, heart values of the participants were determined via telecardiology on a daily basis and the drug dose was adjusted accordingly. The number of hospitalizations amongst these patients was reduced by one third. In the IN-TIME study, physicians used telecardiology to treat heart patients with an implanted defibrillator: the participants had a significantly lower risk of death than patients without remote aftercare.

What kinds of telemedical methods are available for people with heart diseases and how physicians can use them successfully will be the topic at the MEDICA EDUCATION CONFERENCE. The focus will be on the topic “Internal Medicine: Future Technologies and Remote Patient Management”. The MEDICA EDUCATION CONFERENCE is an interdisciplinary advanced training course of the German Society for Internal Medicine (DGIM) and Messe Düsseldorf based on the motto “Science Meets Medical Technology”. For further information:


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