As we go through the many chapters of the pandemic, we find ourselves at the cusp of what can be called, “preparing for a new post-pandemic reality”. The coronavirus outbreak disrupted our healthcare systems, challenged our science and taught us many lessons. The most important being— the urgent need for advancing healthcare – especially for the most prominent health threats. It also resulted in existing and prevalent health conditions being relegated to the backburner, out of genuine concern and fear that patients had to visit hospitals.
Critical amongst these health conditions are problems of the heart, with cardiovascular disease being one of the highest causes of mortality in India with one in four deaths attributed to CVDs. In particular, structural heart diseases constitute a large proportion of the burden of cardiovascular disease. From a hole between the heart’s chambers to damaged valves or inflammation in heart muscles, structural heart defects can be congenital, which means present at birth, or can be age-related or induced by other medical conditions.
Compounding the challenge, structural heart conditions don’t discriminate based on age. While many people battling valve issues or who need medical intervention are part of India’s aging population, many children and babies also face structural heart issues. In fact, more than 200,000 children are estimated to be born with congenital heart disease in India every year. About one-fifth of these suffer from critical heart disease requiring early intervention within the first month of life for survival. This means that people of any age can face a structural heart condition and delaying or avoiding treatment only increases the risk of problems down the road.
Fortunately, with breakthrough medical technologies being developed and becoming available to address these different needs, new treatment options are able to save and extend lives.
The future of heartcare with innovation at the forefront
Diseases of the heart are complex, and success depends on innovation that brings to reality treatment options once thought impossible. From structural inventions to surgical valve therapies, science is bringing pioneering innovations to people for every stage of heart disease. Today our focus is on innovative technologies that redefine possibilities for people’s lives by changing the way cardiovascular disease is treated so they can live healthier, better lives. These technologies improve the way clinicians treat people with vascular diseases, irregular heartbeats and diseases of the heart’s valves and other structures. To put it in perspective, physicians are now able to manage heart rhythm conditions, use remote monitoring devices to keep an eye on their patients, and treat a wide profile of structural heart diseases for more effective outcomes.
There has been a recent launch of a transcatheter mitral valve repair solution to combat mitral regurgitation. This is a condition that affects the heart’s mitral valve which is responsible for moving oxygenated blood from one heart chamber to another. It is often undiagnosed and can make it difficult for a person to breathe with ease or even accomplish daily activities. If left untreated, it may result in heart failure or mortality. Mitral regurgitation affects one in 10 people over the age of 75 and raises risk for heart failure, cardiac arrest and stroke. Our device, which is a catheter-based treatment allows cardiologists to repair a leaky mitral valve without open-heart surgery. A catheter is inserted through a vein in the leg to reach the heart and repair the leaky valve, therefore it is called a ‘transcatheter device’. This is important because many elder patients who have this condition are at high-risk for an invasive procedure.
Another miracle solution in the structural heart segment is an occluder, which is a minimally-invasive device used to close an opening (or hole) between the heart chambers when the hole doesn’t seal properly at the time of birth. The condition is called Patent Foramen Ovale or PFO. While these devices are typically used on adult-sized patients, there is a miniaturized version of the occluder — no larger than a pea — specifically designed to close a hole in the heart (called patent ductus arteriosus or PDA) of a premature infant weighing as little as 700gms. And because it is a minimally invasive device, it can eliminate the need for riskier surgery.
The advances in cardiology over the last few decades have altered outcomes for heart patients. Today, there is a broad portfolio of structural heart solutions for different conditions. Innovative technologies and advancing science can help patients achieve better health and improved quality of life.
It is important to know about cardiovascular technologies and services that help physicians shape better, more personalized patient experiences, improve efficiencies and maintain a high level of care.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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