December 16, 2014
The Top 10 Most Promising Medical Breakthroughs – Part III
BY Mary Mahoney
Medicine is advancing faster than ever, thanks to a steady stream of discoveries, innovative uses of technology and a new focus on patient care and satisfaction. This three-part series looks at 10 of the most promising medical breakthroughs and how they are changing people’s lives.
Heart disease is the number-one cause of death for both men and women in the United States, accounting for more than one-third of all deaths and costing $108 billion a year in health-care services, medications and lost productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But heart disease is also one of the most preventable diseases, according to the CDC. Here are few of the newest treatments and procedures helping achieve that goal.
Replacing a Heart Valve with Fewer Complications
For patients who are not healthy enough to undergo traditional open-heart valve replacement surgery, Orlando Health Heart Institute now offers a minimally invasive alternative called CoreValve.
“The CoreValve system is a newer device to replace a diseased, calcified or otherwise thickened aortic valve, which is one of the four valves in the heart,” said Dr. Deepak Vivek, a cardiologist at Orlando Health Heart Institute, which was the first to introduce the CoreValve to Orlando in 2014.
“The older prosthetic valves required a separate balloon to squeeze the old valve out of the way” he said. “The CoreValve is self-expanding and quite small, so it can be inserted through a femoral artery or a small chest incision. Trials already show patients doing better with this newer technology.”
A More Powerful Device to Track Cardiac Rhythms
Heart beat monitoring can be essential to prevention. And while implantable cardiac monitors have been available for years, a new design pushes the boundaries of efficiency and convenience.
One device recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration is the Reveal LINQ ICM. The implantable part is tiny – only one-third the size of a AAA battery, and it monitors patients’ heart rhythms for up to three years.
The data is transmitted wirelessly and continuously. Besides monitoring arrhythmia, the device also tracks symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations and unexplained fainting, which may in turn indicate arrhythmia.
According to the journal Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology, it only takes about 10 minutes to implant the device, using a local anesthetic.
The Orlando Health Heart Institute began doing the procedure in early 2014.
Preventing Heart Attacks in Younger Patients
In 2014, the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children became the first hospital in Florida to insert a subcutaneous defibrillator in a pediatric patient. The procedure was done on a 10-year-old patient who had suffered sudden cardiac arrest.
The device is about the size of a deck of cards and is implanted just beneath the skin below the armpit. The goal is to prevent a heart attack without touching the blood vessels or heart.
Whereas older technology monitored individual heart beats, this new device actually analyzes the heart rhythms and provides an electrical impulse to reset the rhythm when it senses the heart is not beating correctly.
A Less-Invasive Alternative to Bypass Surgery
Safer, gentler heart surgery has long been a goal of cardiologists. Hybrid coronary revascularization is gaining ground as an alternative to the longer and more complex artery bypass surgery, according to Orlando Health Heart Institute’s Vivek.
“This newer strategy combines minimally invasive surgery with drug-eluting stents,”he said. “The stent is coated in a drug that is slowly released over a six-month period. The drug acts to prevent the formation of scar tissue.”
The procedure typically results in faster recovery time and fewer complications.