Bioimpedance Alerts from Cardiovascular Implantable Electronic Devices: Observational Study of Diagnostic Relevance and Clinical Outcomes

J Med Internet Res. 2017 Nov 23;19(11):e393. doi: 10.2196/jmir.8066.


Background: The use of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices is expanding in the treatment of heart failure. Most of the current devices are equipped with remote monitoring functions, including bioimpedance for fluid status monitoring. The question remains whether bioimpedance measurements positively impact clinical outcome.

Objective: The aim of this study was to provide a comprehensive overview of the clinical interventions taken based on remote bioimpedance monitoring alerts and their impact on clinical outcome.

Methods: This is a single-center observational study of consecutive ICD and CRT patients (n=282) participating in protocol-driven remote follow-up. Bioimpedance alerts were analyzed with subsequently triggered interventions.

Results: A total of 55.0% (155/282) of patients had an ICD or CRT device equipped with a remote bioimpedance algorithm. During 34 (SD 12) months of follow-up, 1751 remote monitoring alarm notifications were received (2.2 per patient-year of follow-up), comprising 2096 unique alerts (2.6 per patient-year of follow-up). Since 591 (28.2%) of all incoming alerts were bioimpedance-related, patients with an ICD or CRT including a bioimpedance algorithm had significantly more alerts (3.4 versus 1.8 alerts per patient-year of follow-up, P<.001). Bioimpedance-only alerts resulted in a phone contact in 91.0% (498/547) of cases, which triggered an actual intervention in 15.9% (87/547) of cases, since in 75.1% (411/547) of cases reenforcing heart failure education sufficed. Overall survival was lower in patients with a cardiovascular implantable electronic device with a bioimpedance algorithm; however, this difference was driven by differences in baseline characteristics (adjusted hazard ratio of 2.118, 95% CI 0.845-5.791). No significant differences between both groups were observed in terms of the number of follow-up visits in the outpatient heart failure clinic, the number of hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of heart failure, or mean length of hospital stay.

Conclusions: Bioimpedance-only alerts constituted a substantial amount of incoming alerts when turned on during remote follow-up and triggered an additional intervention in only 16% of cases since in 75% of cases, providing general heart failure education sufficed. The high frequency of heart failure education that was provided could have contributed to fewer heart failure-related hospitalizations despite significant differences in baseline characteristics.

Keywords: algorithms; call centers; cardiac resynchronization therapy; defibrillators, implantable; electric impedance; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable / statistics & numerical data*
  • Electric Impedance / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome