KU Hospital cardiologists using tiny wireless heart monitor

Cardiologists at The University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, Kan., are among the first in the nation with a new tool to help them treat their patients, and it’s smaller than a Triple-A battery.

The device, called the LINQ, is slipped just beneath the patient’s skin in about 30 seconds in a doctor’s office, rather than an operating room, and it’s seen as a huge leap forward in patient comfort and monitoring.

Once inside the patient’s chest, the LINQ constantly and wirelessly monitors a patient’s heart for up to three years and sends a daily report to the doctor. Since it uses wireless technology, a patient doesn’t have to be tied down to a land line, as was the case with older, much larger devices, a spokesman said.

Doctors can help patients find answers to unexplained fainting or other potential heart-related problems without interrupting the patient’s lifestyle.

Patients are also given a small device to hold up to their chest in the event they feel dizzy, lightheaded or faint. This triggers an alert in the doctor’s office and begins transmitting real-time information for quick analysis and possible treatment.

“The technology itself has been around for a few years, but the size of the device and the ease of implanting it is very new,” said Dr. Rhea Pimentel, an electrophysiologist at The University of Kansas Hospital. “I think this is going to open a bunch of new doors for the way we diagnose and treat our patients.”

The Food and Drug Administration approved the LINQ for use in February, making it the smallest implantable cardiac monitoring device available on the market, according to its Minneapolis-based manufacturer, Medtronic Inc.

To see a video about the tiny heart monitor, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wbv3FMYfhfQ.

– Story and video from KU Hospital

New technology at KU Hospital removes blood clots more safely

A new safer way to remove clots in key blood vessels to the heart is now available at The University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, Kan.

Called AngioVac, the procedure uses a catheter to vacuum out the damaging clot, then filters the blood captured during the procedure and returns it to the patient, meaning there is no blood loss.  The technology will primarily be used for critical blood vessels around the heart.

Interventional radiologist,  Dr. Zach Collins, believes the AngioVac is far superior to the riskier option of surgery to get the clot.  In addition, the recovery from the procedure is much faster than surgery.

To see a KU Hospital video about this procedure, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4PAtLVDnrg

 – Story and video from KU Hospital

Few poor Kansans qualify for Medicaid

by Kansas Health Institute (KHI)

Topeka — It is a common misconception that all poor Kansans are eligible for Medicaid.

In reality, only a few are actually eligible.

Medicaid is a publicly financed source of health insurance for low-income individuals. The cost of the program is split between the federal and state governments. Federal law requires some populations to be covered, but states have a lot of flexibility in the program to cover additional populations.

Therefore, income eligibility levels vary greatly among the states.   Kansas offers Medicaid coverage to children, pregnant women, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and parents whose income is below the state’s threshold to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), as required by federal law. Kansas does not extend Medicaid coverage to many other adults. As a result, Kansas has some of the strictest Medicaid income constraints for adults in the nation.

The Affordable Care Act required states to provide Medicaid coverage to all adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), which equals $32,913 per year for a family of four.

However, a subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decision made Medicaid expansion essentially optional for states, and Kansas officials have not expanded the program. Expansion requires legislative approval, and with the legislative session winding down, it looks like a decision won’t be made this calendar year.

“Currently, less than 10 percent of the entire Kansas Medicaid/CHIP population are non-disabled adults under age 65,” said Scott C. Brunner, senior analyst and strategy team leader at the Kansas Health Institute, and the state’s former Medicaid director. “Most of them are required populations under federal law. To qualify for Medicaid, Kansas parents must make no more than 38 percent of the federal poverty level, or $9,063 annually for a family of four. Childless adults do not qualify, even if they have no income at all.”

To inform the discussion KHI has released a new issue brief that examines in detail who is-and who is not-currently eligible for the combined Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program in Kansas.  The issue brief on this topic is at http://media.khi.org/news/documents/2014/04/09/AdultsInMedicaid0409.pdf.

The Kansas Health Institute delivers credible information and research enabling policy leaders to make informed health policy decisions that enhance their effectiveness as champions for a healthier Kansas. The Kansas Health Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy and research organization based in Topeka, established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation.