Generating Evidence for Cardiac Care for COVID-19 Patients through Implantable Medical Devices

Data from implantable medical devices can reveal the impact of COVID-19 on the trajectory of cardiac illness and recovery. In a new collaboration with Boston Scientific, researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) are examining remote data collected from patients using cardiac devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators.

Drs. Ruth Masterson Creber and Meghan Reading Turchioe

The project is led by Dr. Ruth Masterson Creber, assistant professor of population health sciences, and Dr. Meghan Reading Turchioe, postdoctoral associate, at Weill Cornell Medicine Department of Population Health Science’s Division of Health Informatics. Working closely across the NYP enterprise with Dr. Nir Uriel, director of advanced heart failure and cardiac transplantation, and site PIs Dr. Evelyn Horn (Weill Cornell Medicine), Dr. Kelly Axsom (Columbia University Medical Center), Dr. David Slotwiner (NewYork-Presbyterian Queens), and

Dr. Kumudha Ramasubbu (NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital), the team will analyze data from more than 1000 patients in the course of a year.

Cardiac patients are more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections and suffer worse outcomes. “The receptors that COVID binds to are in the lungs, but they are also found in the heart,” explained Dr. Turchioe. “Naturally, there is a lot of crossover complications.” 

This study of granular cardiac data is the first of its kind.  The devices, which remotely monitor a number of parameters used in clinical practice including heart rate, heart rhythm, temperature, and thoracic impedance, enable researchers to explore detailed cardiac changes that occur from when the patient is first infected with COVID to hospitalization to discharge, as well as the long-term health implications. Paired with Boston Scientific’s proprietary algorithm which predicts cardiac decompensation, the devices may also help predict whether a patient’s health will decline in the coming days and weeks.

“With our data, we may be able to identify a phenotype of a patient who is able to stay at home safely and does not need to come to the hospital,” said Dr. Turchioe. “Ultimately, we hope to get better evidence out there around how to care for cardiology patients during a pandemic.”

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