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Telemonitoring improves survival in heart failure

Monitoring congestive heart failure patients using telemedicine equipment dramatically improves their chances of

survival, new research reveals.

The study by the University of Hull followed up 427 congestive heart failure patients from 20 hospitals in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands between 2000 and 2002.

In addition to seeing their GP, 173 patients were monitored through monthly telephone contacts with a heart failure nurse. Another 169 received twice-daily 'telemonitoring' of weight, blood pressure and pulse rhythm.

Data was transferred through home monitoring equipment direct to a cordless telephone and then through secure networks to a medical service centre.

Mortality rates were 'substantially lower' in patients supported via monthly telephone calls or telemonitoring, the study presented at the Royal Society of Medicine's recent Telemed '03 conference in London found.

At 480 days' follow-up, patients in the telemonitoring group lived for an average of 408 days and those using the nurse telephone system lived for 394 days, compared with 320 days for those given standard clinical care.

Hospital admissions in the telemonitoring group were slightly higher than those given nurse telephone care, but mean length of stay and overall cost to the health service was considerably lower.

Telemonitoring would cut admissions, saving the NHS money overall, the authors said.

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