Steady as she goes

January 11, 2022

Peter Caden says he’s grateful to be part of a remote-monitoring program at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre for his cardioverter defibrillator.

Peter Caden says he’s grateful to be part of a remote-monitoring program at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre for his cardioverter defibrillator. Photo supplied.

Remote-monitoring program keeps ticker on time for Red Deer man

Story by Tracy Kennedy

For Peter Caden, a cardiac patient involved in an award-winning Cardiac Implantable Electronic Device remote-monitoring program, it’s not so much the convenience that he enjoys — it’s the peace of mind.

When Caden, 66, first experienced heart failure 10 years ago, it was perplexing. In good shape and with a healthy lifestyle, he sought out medical attention when his heart raced far beyond the average 60 beats per minute.

“They found my heart was doing 180 beats per minute, and they put me in the hospital right away,” says Caden. “They started me on antibiotics and they tried to find the cause of it. They thought it was a viral infection.”

Over the years and following many appointments, the origin of Caden’s condition remains a mystery, but his care now includes the security and support of the remote-monitoring program and the Red Deer Cardiac Device Clinic Team.

The team here is part of a larger, provincial team involved in remotely monitoring their patients who have cardiac implants such as pacemakers and cardioverter defibrillators. The group was recently awarded the 2021 Health Promotion and Advocacy Excellence Award in Cardiovascular Nursing by the Canadian Council of Cardiovascular Nurses.

Caden had a cardio defibrillator implanted in 2012 for his rapid heart rate and atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). His implanted device provides continuous monitoring and will give him a shock if his heart beats outside of set parameters. When the remote-monitoring program began in the Central Zone in 2016, Caden was among the first to enroll.

In this truly patient-centred program, individuals have a device at home — that they hold over their heart to read the signals of the implanted device — to transmit the information to clinicians. This transmission allows patients to avoid driving — sometimes long distances — to in-person clinic visits. It also gives patients the comfort of knowing they can get help right away if they need it.

“If there’s anything irregular about the heartbeat, rather than wait for an appointment, you can share that data with the clinic in real time,” adds Caden. “When minutes count, that’s critical.”

James Morton, clinical lead of the Red Deer Cardiac Device Clinic, says that a dangerous arrhythmia can be life-threatening.

“It’s about patient safety because if there’s a problem with the system or a patient receives a shock from the defibrillator, we are automatically notified about those happening,” says Morton. “Without remote monitoring you wouldn’t know until something catastrophic happened.”

Remote monitoring has also been a benefit during the pandemic, as transmission of data from the home mitigates the infection risk of in-person visits.

For his part, Caden says he’s pleased to be part of the program.

“This has been groundbreaking for Central Alberta. Caregivers get real-time, remote data to work with and can respond accordingly. Ultimately, these devices save time, money and lives.”