Your Medical Device Patient Identification Card: Don’t Leave Home Without It

Back in the 80s, American Express ran a popular series of commercials featuring the logo: “American Express: Don’t Leave home without it.” These commercials featured unnamed stars with their names imprinted on an AMEX card who touted the benefits of the card, especially for those who were frequent travelers.

For select patients, the same phrase can be applied to not leaving home without a record of your implanted medical devices including coronary artery stents, pacemakers and defibrillators.

Patients who have had stents for coronary artery blockages will be provided with a patient identification card listing the type of stent, the date of of implant, and the vessel in which the stent was placed. This information is useful for the physician who has never seen you because it can give clues to how long you should be on anti-platelet medications such as Plavix (clopidogrel). Additionally, the location of the stent will also give your doctor an idea of areas of the heart to pay extra attention to during tests such as echocardiograms or stress tests.

A sample stent card from Boston Scientific:

stent cardFor patients with a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), the patient identification card will include your name, type of device, manufacture, lead information, as well as the date of implant.

A sample ICD Card from St. Jude Medical:

st jude icdEach manufacture has a machine called a programmer that is only able to check on its own brand of devices. Your patient identification card will help your doctor select the correct programmer to use. The programmer will provide valuable information such as the presence of life-threatening arrhythmias, battery life, settings, and other diagnostic information.  If many years have passed since your pacemaker or ICD was implanted and the correct programmer can’t link up with your device, it may suggest that the battery has run out and you are due for a replacement, called a generator change.

A sample programmer from St. Jude Medical:

merlin_systemThese are just some of the items that you can carry around to keep you and your doctors better informed about your cardiac history. A medical device patient identification card is just like your drivers license–don’t leave home without it.

HeartHub: Patient Education Material in English, Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese

The American Heart Association provides an online portal for patients called HeartHub that provides information, resources, and tools in the areas of cardiovascular disease and stroke. For those who like to incorporate technology into maintaining and improving their health, its an excellent portal to browse. Topics discussed include warning signs of serious conditions, healthy recipes, risk factors, as well as details of various cardiovascular conditions and procedures.

The best part of all is that portions of this site have also been translated into three languages including Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Sample entries in Spanish include:

¿Qué es la angina de pecho?
¿Qué es la fibrilación auricular?
¿Qué es la insuficiencia cardiaca?
¿Qué es un ataque al corazón?
¿Qué es un marcapasos?
¿Qué es la angioplastia coronaria?

Sample entries in Vietnamese include:

Chứng Đau thắt ngực là gì?
Rung tâm nhĩ là gì?
Suy tim là gì?
Cơn đau tim là gì?
Máy tạo nhịp tim là gì?
Tạo hình Động mạch Vành là gì?

I highly recommend that patients with a history of heart disease look at this site. Share these links with your friends and family.