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Keeping better tabs on heart disease

Doctors monitor readings given from implanted heart monitor

Rodney Clarke already has a pacemaker, a defibrillator and an aortic valve implant. Now he's one of the first heart disease patients to get a new implanted monitor.

"It's given me the availability of being able to have some of the quality of my life back," said Clarke.

"It's actually one of the latest technology advances that allows us to move to what we call personalized medicine," explained Spencer Rosero, M.D, an associate professor of medicine and director of the pacemaker clinic at The University of Rochester.

Rosero is one of the leading researchers on the device. It's implanted in the chest and a wire is connected to the heart to continually monitor heart pressure. Patients collect readings by waving a hand-held device over their chest. The information helps them figure out when and how much medication to take.

"If you have the information there every day then you can adjust the medications every day. But if you're only getting information once a month, you can only adjust the medications once a month," Rosero said.

The constant monitoring helps better control heart disease.

"The goal is to keep patients out of the hospital and modify the medications so they only take the medicine when they really need it," Rosero said.

Keeping close tabs on his heart has helped Rodney avoid a transplant.

"I'm humbled. I'm very, very humbled," Rodney said.

Rosero says the monitor allows patients to take a proactive role in their own care much like the way people with diabetes test their own blood sugar levels.

Hundreds of people are needed for phase three trials across the U.S. To learn more about how to enroll go to www.clinicaltrials.gov.