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New heart monitor at Pawnee Valley Campus helps diagnose conditions
Dusty Thacker displays the new heart monitor available at The University of Kansas Health System Pawnee Valley Campus. Thacker is director of cardiopulmonary services.

The new heart-monitoring equipment at the hospital in Larned is now available to answer many cardiac-related questions for patients and physicians.

As director of cardiopulmonary services at The University of Kansas Health System Pawnee Valley Campus, Dusty Thacker announced that the small, wearable monitor can help patients learn what might be causing certain symptoms.

“The monitor may be indicated for those who have palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue or anxiety,” Thacker explained. “It is also useful for patients who experience a syncopal episode, which is a loss of consciousness caused by a drop in blood pressure.

“In addition,” Thacker noted, “the monitor has been shown to improve detection of previously undiagnosed atrial fibrillation. This is commonly called A-Fib, a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other complications.”

The device is called Zio XT and comes highly recommended by cardiologists at the DeBakey Heart Institute at HaysMed, Thacker said.

Patches are applied to the upper left chest, using an adhesive; it fits under normal clothing. It is about 5 by 2 inches, and weighs just 24.5 grams. The device is for extended wear - usually three to 14 days. It is water resistant and may be worn in the shower.

“The Zio continuously records your every heartbeat as you go about your daily life,” Thacker said. “This approach makes it easier to gather the right information and determine if you have an irregular heart rhythm.

“This small device has no wires and doesn’t need to be recharged, replaced or repositioned during testing,” Thacker continued. “It can tell us if your heart is beating too slow or too fast, or if it has skipped beats.”

After the prescribed amount of testing days, the monitor is downloaded and processed. Results go to a cardiologist at HaysMed for interpretation; the ordering healthcare provider also receives the results.

“Sometimes patients are a bit apprehensive but they can be assured we take time to demonstrate how it is used, while answering their questions,” Thacker commented. “We also emphasize the importance of detecting an irregular heartbeat.”

The director of cardiopulmonary services noted that studies indicate 98 percent of patients wear the monitor for the entire prescribed period; 88 percent find it easy to use; and 83 percent would wear it again, if necessary.

Melanie Urban, Pawnee Valley Campus administrator, shared “Pawnee Valley is committed to being innovative and investing in the health of our community. Providing exceptional outpatient services is an important part of that commitment and this new equipment is a great example.”