Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in India; it kills 1.7 million Indians each year. It also happens to be the leading cause of death in America, responsible for one in four deaths every year. Needless to say, researches have been fighting against this global killer for years, trying to achieve new breakthroughs in this field. In spite of many breakthroughs, heart disease still remains the number one reason for patients’ death. However, medical field is advancing and every day there are new inventions waiting to happen. The aim is to eradicate heart disease and bring down the rate of mortality.
Below are a few breakthroughs that have happened in the last few years.
1. Success in treating heart failure: In 2016, July, FDA approved a new class of drug that treats heart failure. Entresto combines a drug called valsartan, which has worked significantly better than the other medicines and brought down mortality rate by 20%.
2. Challenging Diabetes: Heart disease and diabetes are related. People are more susceptible to heart disease in diabetes and they tend to do worse too. A new diabetes drug EMPA-REG (empagliflozin) seems to be more effective in reducing deaths from cardiac disease as well as maintaining healthy blood sugars. A study published in September 2015 in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people on this drug had reduction in cardiovascular disease by a margin of one third.
3. Mini pacemakers: The conventional pacemakers need to be surgically implanted in patients who have heart failure. At times, the wires that lead from the device to the heart can become detached or infected. A tiny pacemaker, the size of a fingertip has been devised and it can be inserted through a catheter. It has been approved in Europe and trials are being conducted in United States. However, they’re not suitable for patients whose hearts have more than one chamber that needs pacing.
4. Easier aortic valve replacement surgery: People who need an aortic valve replacement require an open heart surgery. The FDA has approved a new technology, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), for patients for whom the surgery is risky. The collapsible valve can be inserted via the femoral artery in the groin or a small incision in the chest and expanded once it is in the heart.
5. Reducing bad cholesterol: For many patients, reducing low-density lipid (LDL) cholesterol is difficult. Even medications help only till an extent. Cholesterol is a major contributor to blocked arteries. FDA has approved two new drugs that can reduce LDL. The drugs are given by injection every couple of weeks and are intended to be used in addition to, not instead of, other treatments.
Medical advancements are allowing researches to invent, discover and redesign approaches towards treating heart health. With breakthroughs like these, soon we would be able to deal with heart disease in a better way.
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