New Innovations in Heart Health Care Technology
The National Institutes of Health estimates that between 250,000 and 450,000 people die annually in the United States as a result of acute heart attacks prompted by arrhythmias. An arrhythmia is a disturbance in the heart’s rhythm. Research funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has led to the development of a unique imaging system that may become instrumental in the testing and treatment of such heart arrhythmias.
The imaging technology is comprised of dual cameras. The cameras allow physicians to examine the electrochemical and metabolic properties of a heart while under changing conditions. The advantages of viewing these physiological variables at the same time will likely have a huge impact in the area of cardiac diagnosis and treatment.
Cardiac patients with a diagnosis of acute coronary disorder now have the option of being monitored at home if they are at risk for re-hospitalization through a program called Connected Cardiac Care. Patients who participate in this program monitor their vital signs daily with telemonitoring device that also transmits the data to a physician. A telemonitoring nurse reviews the data and provides intervention if necessary remotely.
A similar concept is being tested by a group of Australian scientists to encourage cardiac patients to complete their rehabilitation programs following surgery. The trial is using a cellular phone to collect and transmit data to a central computer. Nurses are then able to review the data remotely. This technology, if successful, could be used by patients who find it difficult to make frequent trips to the hospital for the six-week rehabilitation program that’s recommended after heart surgery.
Stem cell therapy is an exciting innovation in the area of heart health. The first human received cardiac stem cells at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in June 2009. The clinical trial is using patients’ own heart tissue to grow stem cells. The stem cells are then injected into the patients’ hearts in an effort to heal damaged cardiac muscle. Twenty four patients participating in this break-through study will be monitored for six months with results scheduled for release in the latter part of 2010. This technology may enable patients to heal their own injured hearts that have resulted from heart attacks.
DecodeMe, a division of Decode Genetics, this year launched a test that detects genetic variations linked to a multitude of heart-related conditions. The test, costing $195, assesses an individual’s genetic risk for conditions such as heart attacks, atrial fibrillation, strokes, and clots in blood vessels. This information could possibly allow individuals at high risk for heart disease to receive early intervention before the problem actually manifests.
There’s a vast amount of exciting innovations on the horizon of heart health technology. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. among women and men. Hopefully, these breaking diagnostic tools and treatment options will at some point change this disturbing statistic.