Medical Policy: 02.02.17
Original Effective Date: January 2016
Reviewed: January 2017
Revised: January 2017
Benefit determinations are based on the applicable contract language in effect at the time the services were rendered. Exclusions, limitations or exceptions may apply. Benefits may vary based on contract, and individual member benefits must be verified. Wellmark determines medical necessity only if the benefit exists and no contract exclusions are applicable. This medical policy may not apply to FEP. Benefits are determined by the Federal Employee Program.
This Medical Policy document describes the status of medical technology at the time the document was developed. Since that time, new technology may have emerged or new medical literature may have been published. This Medical Policy will be reviewed regularly and be updated as scientific and medical literature becomes available.
The use of baroreflex stimulation devices (also known as baroreflex activation therapy) is a potential alternative treatment for resistant hypertension and heart failure. Both hypertension and heart failure are relatively common conditions, and are initially treated with medications and lifestyle changes. A substantial portion of patients are unresponsive to conventional therapy and treating these patients is often challenging and can lead to high costs and adverse effects. As a result, there is a large unmet need for additional treatments.
New treatment options are being explored to treat drug-resistant hypertension. One such approach is the electrical activation of the carotid sinus baroreflex. Baroreceptors are pressure sensors contained within the walls of the carotid arteries. They are part of the autonomic nervous system that regulates basic physiologic functions such as heart rate and blood pressure (BP). When these receptors are stretched, as occurs with increases in BP, the baroreflex is activated. Activation of the baroreflex sends signals to the brain, which responds by inhibiting sympathetic nervous system output and increasing parasympathetic nervous system output. The effect of this activation is to reduce heart rate and BP, thereby helping to maintain homeostasis of the circulatory system.
This procedure was first introduced in the 1960s and 1970s for the treatment of drug-resistant hypertension and refractory angina pectoris. It consisted of chronically stimulating the carotid sinus nerves using implanted nerve electrodes with an implantable radiofrequency controlled receiver. At that time, this approach was not adopted as a viable treatment option for hypertension due to the development of new drugs used in the treatment of hypertension and the technical limitations of implantable medical devices during that time period. Newer devices are now being developed, first-generation and second-generation devices, which bilaterally activate the carotid sinus baroreflex by electrically stimulating the carotid sinus wall. A surgical implant procedure is used to place the device under the skin near the clavicle. The electrodes are placed on the carotid arteries and the leads run under the skin and are connected to a battery powered implanted impulse generator device.
Specific devices for baroreflex stimulation have been developed, but none has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any indication. One device, called the Barostim neo™ (CVRx™, previously called the Rheos® Baroreflex Hypertension Therapy System) is approved for sale in Europe for hypertension and heart failure patients. The system consists of a unilateral electrode and lead that is attached to the carotid sinus and a pulse generator that is implanted subcutaneously in the chest wall. Programming is performed via radiofrequency telemetry using an external laptop computer and software.
There are no baroreflex activation therapy devices that have received U.S. FDA approval or clearance.
Intracardiac ischemia monitoring which utilizes an implantable electrogram device that records cardiac data and detects ischemic events using a standard pacemaker intracardiac lead positioned in the right ventricular apex. This implantable warning system emits a vibrational alarm when impending acute ischemic events are detected prior to symptom onset. The device is currently intended only for use in individuals considered high-risk for ischemic cardiac events, such as those with previous acute coronary events, diabetes, or renal insufficiency. This implantable warning system emits a vibrational alarm when impending acute ischemic events are detected prior to symptom onset. The device is currently intended only for use in individuals considered high-risk for ischemic cardiac events, such as those with previous acute coronary events, diabetes, or renal insufficiency. The proposed purpose of the device is to reduce the time from ischemic event onset to presentation in an emergency room with proposed potential clinical benefits related to faster emergent care.
The AngelMed Guardian® system (Angel Medical Systems, Shrewsbury, NJ) is an implantable cardiac device similar to a pacemaker but it monitors the heart’s electrical signals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is suggested that this device can detect rapid ST segment changes that may signify major cardiac events such as coronary artery occlusions. When an event occurs the system is designed to alert patients to seek medical care by delivering a series of vibratory, auditory, and visual warnings. At the hospital the doctor can retrieve information collected by the implanted device to a computer to help determine a plan of treatment. The system, currently commercially available in Brazil, is the subject of a phase-II clinical study in the United States and has not received PMA or 501(k) FDA-approval at this time.
At the present time, there is insufficient scientific evidence to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the Guardian System for intracardiac ischemia monitoring. The Guardian device has not been cleared by the FDA for use in the U.S. outside clinical trial settings.
LAA occlusion devices are non-pharmacologic alternatives to anticoagulation for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation. Currently, there is one device that has FDA-approval for this indication in the U.S.(Watchman), but at least 2 different devices (The Lariat® Loop Applicator device, The Amplatzer Amulet® device) have been evaluated for this purpose.
A Class II medical device called Lariat® (SentraHEART, Inc.) fails one out of 10 times when used “off label” in a cardiac procedure to clamp off a potential source of dangerous blood clots in high risk heart patients. Furthermore, using Lariat in this procedure often leads to urgent cardiac surgery or death and does not lower the risk of stroke in patients who undergo the procedure. The Amplatzer Amulet® device (St. Jude Medical, Plymouth, MN) has a CE approval in Europe for left atrial appendage closure, but is not currently approved in the U.S. for any indication. The main difference between the Watchman and the Lariat is that the Watchman is a metal and fabric implant placed inside the heart, blocking the opening to the appendage. The Lariat on the other hand occludes the appendage by tying off the base of the LAA from outside the heart.
Published randomized, controlled trials compared the WATCHMAN™ device to warfarin, and reported non-inferiority on a composite outcome of stroke, cardiovascular/unexplained death, or systemic embolism after 2 years of follow-up. There were a higher number of complications in the LAA closure group, primarily due to early complications associated with the device placement. Additional trials are underway or awaiting published results to determine the patient population, implantation safety, non-inferiority, and long term safety.
In 2015, the American College of Cardiology (ACC), Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), and Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions published an overview of the integration of percutaneous LAA closure devices into the clinical practice of patients with AF. The overview was organized around questions related to the sites of care delivery for LAA closure devices, training for proceduralists, necessary follow-up data collection, identification of appropriate patient cohorts, and reimbursement. The statement provides general guidelines for facility and operator requirements, including the presence of a multidisciplinary heart team, for centers performing percutaneous LAA closures. The statement does not provide specific recommendations about the indications and patient populations appropriate for percutaneous LAA closure.
In 2014, the ACC, American Heart Association, and HRS issued guidelines on the management of patients with AF.3 These guidelines recommend that surgical excision of the LAA may be considered in patients undergoing cardiac surgery (class IIB recommendation; level of evidence: C), but make no specific recommendations regarding percutaneous LAA closure.
In 2012, the American College of Chest Physicians published evidence-based clinical best practice guidelines on the use of antithrombotic therapy for prevention of stroke in AF.1 In relation to the use of LAA closure devices, the guidelines state: “At this time, we make no formal recommendations regarding LAA closure devices, pending more definitive research in this field.”
CMS proposes that the evidence is sufficient to determine percutaneous left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) therapy using an implanted device is not reasonable and necessary to diagnose or treat an illness or injury or to improve the functioning of a malformed body member and, therefore, is not covered under § 1862(a)(1)(A) of the Social Security Act.
Questions remain after recent recalls about the safety profile of the product. The indications and contraindications regarding the device and the use in patients unable or unwilling to use anticoagulation remain.
No controlled studies were found in the published literature that validates the application of non-invasive medical devices for the measuring of arterial elasticity for cardiovascular disease. No evidence was found to show that evaluation of the status of the arterial elasticity is predictive and, thus, that type of evaluation cannot be used to alter the treatment of individuals.
A variety of outpatient cardiac hemodynamic monitoring devices have been proposed to decrease episodes of acute decompensation in patients with heart failure and thus improve quality of life and reduce morbidity.
The FDA approved the CardioMEMS™ Champion Heart Failure Monitoring System) through the premarket approval (PMA) process. The device consists of an implantable pulmonary artery sensor, implanted in the distal pulmonary artery, a transvenous delivery system, and an electronic sensor that processes signals from the sensor and transmits pulmonary artery pressure measurements to a secure off-site database. Several additional devices that monitor cardiac output through measurements of pressure changes in the pulmonary artery or right ventricular outflow tract have been investigated in the research setting, but have not received FDA approval (e.g., Chronicle®, ImPressure®)
The current evidence base is insufficient to support the use of ambulatory cardiac hemodynamic monitoring using an implantable pulmonary artery pressure measurement device in individuals with heart failure in an outpatient setting. Devices have not been shown to improve clinical outcomes compared to standard methods of heart failure monitoring. Additional well-designed and high quality RCTs are necessary to establish whether health outcomes are significantly improved relative to standard of care for heart failure management.
These devices monitor left atrial pressure (LAP) with the objective of identifying pressure changes in ambulatory individuals with heart failure (HF) to potentially enable earlier intervention and prevention of clinical deterioration. The monitoring system can be used as a stand-alone or combination device with implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) or cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRT-D).
The impact of implantable LAH monitoring on net health outcome has been evaluated through clinical trials, however the results have not been established. The effectiveness of these devices for the proposed uses has not been conclusively demonstrated. Definitive evidence that the use of these technologies improves health outcomes over standard active heart failure patient management is lacking.
The 2013 American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF)/American Heart Association (AHA) Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure does not address use of these implantable devices.
No recommendations were made for use of ambulatory monitoring devices.
The 2010 update of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence clinical guideline on chronic heart failure management does not include outpatient hemodynamic monitoring as a recommendation. This clinical guideline is scheduled for review; updates have not been published.
The aortic counterpulsation device consists of a tiny pump enclosed within a catheter-like tube that is placed through an artery (endovascular) into the heart. The pump works like an artificial heart pump to relieve the load on the left ventricle and help pump blood throughout the body to maintain oxygen saturation and organ perfusion. The indication for permanent placement in those with congestive heart failure is being studied. The device, which requires a minimally invasive surgery, provides patients an alternative to medical therapy. The devices (i.e. Symphony, iVAS, C-Pulse) are considered investigational devices at this time.
Use of baroreflex stimulation implanted devices is considered investigational in all situations including but not limited to treatment of hypertension and heart failure.
Intracardiac ischemia monitoring is considered investigational for all indications including, but not limited to, detection of acute myocardial ischemic events.
Non-invasive assessment of central blood pressure (e.g., SphygmoCor System) is considered investigational
The use of a cardiac device for occlusion of the left atrial appendage (e.g., Watchman, Lariat, WaveCrest) is considered investigational for the prevention of stroke and all other indications because their safety and effectiveness has not been established.
Implantable Left Atrial Hemodynamic (LAH) Monitors (e.g., HeartPOD™ System and Promote® LAP System) are considered investigational.
In the ambulatory care and outpatient setting, cardiac hemodynamic monitoring for the management of heart failure including implantable direct pressure monitoring of the pulmonary artery and is considered investigational.
The use of an implantable aortic counterpulsation system (i.e NuPulse iVAS by NuPulse, Symphony, Sunshine hearts C-Pulse ) for permanent use for advanced congestive heart failure (CHF) or for any other indication is investigational.
To report provider services, use appropriate CPT* codes, Alpha Numeric (HCPCS level 2) codes, Revenue codes and / or diagnosis codes.
Wellmark medical policies address the complex issue of technology assessment of new and emerging treatments, devices, drugs, etc. They are developed to assist in administering plan benefits and constitute neither offers of coverage nor medical advice. Wellmark medical policies contain only a partial, general description of plan or program benefits and do not constitute a contract. Wellmark does not provide health care services and, therefore, cannot guarantee any results or outcomes. Participating providers are independent contractors in private practice and are neither employees nor agents of Wellmark or its affiliates. Treating providers are solely responsible for medical advice and treatment of members. Our medical policies may be updated and therefore are subject to change without notice.
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