COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The success list is a lengthy one for Willie Scott.
He was a tight end at the University of South Carolina before he was drafted into the NFL in 1981. He spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots.
He's a retired elite athlete with a beautiful family and a heart for coaching. The only catch - he's now a regular at Palmetto Health Heart Hospital in Columbia.
"I used to have an episode where I'd go down. I'd spend a couple days in the hospital," Scott said. "I'd jokingly say I have standard reservations at Palmetto Heart."
A few years ago, Scott received the heart failure diagnosis. His heart wasn't pumping blood as well as it should. He had symptoms like shortness of breath and swelling. He's been a longtime football, basketball and track coach at various schools around the Midlands.
After several visits to the E.R., Scott's cardiologist, Dr. Patrick McCann, suggested a new approach.
"We want to intervene sooner," Dr. McCann said. "We want to be more aggressive about intervening in heart failure earlier instead of waiting until they're having such significant problems."
Dr. McCann is an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist. He's used to seeing the sickest of patients. The device he suggested, called "CardioMEMS" is a tiny implantable device that allows Scott's doctors to monitor his pressures from home.
"The pulmonary pressures that we are monitoring give us an indication about a week and a half to two weeks before patients have symptoms," Dr. McCann said.
It's a proactive approach. The device does not require batteries, and once implanted, the wireless sensor sends patient pressure readings to an external system.
For patients like Scott, he aims to lay down on a special pillow for a reading every day. His doctors will likely check in on his pressures 3 to 4 times a week, and adjust medication accordingly.
This approach, they say, is working.
"He's had a significant reduction in his hospital visits. It's like having somebody at home taking care of you," Dr. McCann said.
If you'd like more information about the CardioMEMS device, click here: http://media.sjm.com/newsroom/media-kits/heart-failure-hypertension/united-states/default.aspx
For more on Palmetto Health Heart Hospital and services it offers, click here: https://www.palmettohealth.org/locations-directions/hospitals/palmetto-health-heart-hospital