Heart conditions are one of the biggest problems the US healthcare industry has to face. Reports show that it costs more than $300 billion every year to treat patients suffering from heart-related diseases.
1 in 3 Americans dies every year because of cardiovascular disease.
Because of this, researchers and companies have been challenged to find solutions to bring costs down and save more lives.
Here are some innovative treatments for heart patients.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are being used by scientists to help cure a number of heart-related health issues, such as heart failure and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
They are being used to treat patients that have been born with genetic causes of heart disease by repairing damaged tissue, as well as helping to discover new drugs.
Simon Stertzer of BioCardia, a clinical-stage biotechnology-regenerative medicine company that is creating innovative heart failure treatments, said this:
“BioCardia is a biotech company that has developed the easiest, safest, and most effective device to implant cells, hormones, or other biologically active substances into the heart muscle without resorting to open chest operations. The stem cells, hormones, and other agents are under intense investigation, to ascertain if their use will eventually improve or reverse serious heart dysfunction. Many more clinical trials are still needed to define the role of this approach, but it is the wave of the future.”
Nanotechnology is another innovative treatment for heart patients. There are plenty of studies that are showing great promise.
For example, research at North Carolina State University shows that nanovesicles can be used in tandem with cardiac stem cells to repair heart tissue. It is hoped that by attaching nanovesicles, that are attracted to an injury, to the stem cells, the number of stem cells delivered to the damaged heart tissue will increase. This will increase the chances of survival and give the patient a better life.
Another example comes from research taken at the University of Santa Barbara, where they are constructing nanoparticles to deliver drugs to the plaque on a patient’s artery wall. The aim is to attach peptide proteins to the nanoparticle that then binds with the plaque. The researchers plan to use this treatment to create images of existing plaque to deliver drugs and treat the condition.
Finally, studies at the University of South Carolina and Clemson are being taken to solve collagen heart conditions. Heart valves without sufficient collagen work inefficiently; if too much and they become stiff; too little and they become floppy. The treatment uses gold nanoparticles with collagen to change the heart valve’s mechanics. The aim is to potentially replace heart surgery with this treatment.
Personalized Heart Models
Surgeons can find it difficult to treat heart patients because not all conditions are the same. This is commonly found when treating children with heart problems.
However, an innovative treatment for heart patients has been developed by scientists at University College London. They have developed 3D-printed personalized models of the heart by using MRI scans on children that suffer from congenital heart disease.
There are plenty of advantages to this treatment option, such as the ability for medical professionals to better explain the child’s problems to their families compared to traditional methods such as echocardiograms.
Plus, when it comes to the surgery itself, surgeons can be more accurate in the procedure and can act far quicker. This means the chances of the child surviving can increase dramatically.
This next treatment for heart patients comes from a medical startup company called Newpace. With the help of researchers from Na Homolce Hospital in Prague, Czech Republic, they have created an implantable defibrillator to prevent sudden deaths caused by heart conditions.
The treatment itself is called an implantable string subcutaneous defibrillator (ISSD).
Unlike current subcutaneous defibrillators, the ISSD is less intrusive and does not require a metal pulse generator pocket.
Instead, it uses a single flexible string-shaped device with no leads within the heart. The average implantation time is only 20 minutes, and the device can be connected to a smartphone.
This next treatment has been developed in a partnership by Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital. They have created a soft robotic sleeve that wraps around the patient’s heart to help it beat properly.
It has been developed for people that have already been subject to a heart attack and are at risk of developing total heart failure.
The sleeve functions by syncing the heartbeat with a soft pneumatic actuator that mimics the outer muscles. There is no contact with blood, just like most other devices currently available, removing the need for life-threatening blood thinners.
Finally comes, Artificial intelligence (AI), one of the more technologically advanced solutions on this list. There are multiple ways that AI can be used to treat heart patients.
For example, Bay Labs Inc is using AI for heart patients by combining it with deep learning in order to improve the efficiency of diagnosing CVD. It uses the technology to train its doctors and physicians how to analyze echocardiograms, improving the standard of care and again, saving more lives.
Another great example of AI in action comes from Omron, in the form of a smartwatch with an inflatable cuff that can take users’ blood pressure and provide individualized insights into their condition along with AI-driven tips to help them manage their condition better.
The aim is to get this training to as many healthcare professionals as possible.
Another example of AI comes from a Google health-tech subsidiary named Verily. They are using AI algorithms to predict the chances of a patient suffering from heart disease simply by taking a look into their eyes.
Researchers are building a database of almost 300,000 patients and scanning their eyes for patterns. The eyes are useful because the interior walls contain blood vessels that can be studied (for example a build-up of cholesterol) before making the prediction.
This article has shown just a few of the innovative treatments for heart patients being developed but this number is only going to increase.
Over the next few years, as technology advances and becomes available for use, doctors will be able to save lives in the US and across the world like never before.
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