For people with heart disease, thinking about the long term can be daunting. Luckily many medical innovations for heart disease are beginning to emerge.
Heart Disease in America
Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. On average, an American dies every 33 seconds from heart disease. That’s roughly 695 thousand Americans over the course of a year. These deaths make up one out of every death in America altogether. Roughly one out of every twenty adults aged 20 and older have the deadly disease. Out of every 10 deaths that come from it, two happen in adults less than 65. While you can’t be “cured” of it, there are ways to effectively treat it and live a normal and happy life, and that outlook will become more likely for more people thanks to new medical innovations.
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, or ICDs, are small, battery-powered devices placed in the chest to detect and stop irregular heartbeats. They monitor heartbeats and deliver electric shocks to those with heart disease 24/7. While ICDs themselves are not all that new, new advancements within the technology itself have presented themselves. An innovative ICD safety and effectiveness goals throughout a global clinical study that concluded in August of 2022. This new form of ICD used a thin lead wire placed behind the sternum to “effectively terminate acute and chronic life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias,” according to the report. The report also explains how the device was specifically implemented:
“For study participants, the lead of the extravascular ICD was inserted under the sternum, compared[AA1] to transvenous ICD leads that are inserted through the veins into the heart, or subcutaneous ICDs that have a lead placed beneath the skin above the sternum.”
For non-medical field individuals – such as myself – there is a lot of deciphering required to understand what that all means. But thankfully, the report also summarizes why this advancement was successful.
Paul Friedman, M.D., is a cardiac electrophysiologist, who said the following at the conclusion of the study:
“This study is encouraging. By placing the lead in this new position behind the sternum, the uncommon but serious risks associated with transvenous ICDs, such as lung collapse, damage to heart valves, and heart perforation, can be avoided. Limitations of the subcutaneous ICD are also overcome. Since the lead is behind the sternum and close to the heart, pacing can be delivered, and defibrillation requires less energy with longer battery life than with the subcutaneous ICD.”
Furthermore, the study revealed that this new mechanism terminated 70 percent of ventricular tachycardia episodes it was present. This study contained researchers from 17 different countries. Of the 316 patients that participated in the study, 299 completed it with a “working extravascular ICD system or roughly 95 percent. The defibrillation success rate was 98.7 percent, up from 92.6 percent six months prior.
Like any new potential form of treatment, there are some areas that need to be further examined. This new method cannot be immediately implemented. The early and encouraging results only mean that with a considerable training program this could potentially become an effective method to improve chances against heart disease. In addition, it is not currently believed to be a suitable form of treatment for everybody. Patients with previous open-heart surgery were excluded from this initial study and could not be considered for it in the future at this time.
In the meantime, any form of potential advancement or medical breakthrough is welcomed to combat the leading cause of American deaths.
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