February is designated as American Heart Month and health organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) use this time to educate the public about heart disease. Starting in 1963, this annual event is focused on encouraging Americans to battle against heart disease through open communication and proper prevention methods.
Did you know that about every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack?1 Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, resulting in about 1 in 4 deaths.2
What’s important to know is heart disease is preventable and adults can lower their risk by:
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through proper exercise and diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
- Managing cholesterol levels and blood pressure
- Avoiding alcohol or only drinking in moderation
Although the methods above help prevent heart disease, new technological advances can help break through current barriers and enhance the future of treatment.
Health apps and activity trackers like Fitbit and Apple Watch are paving the way for a new standard in preventative medicine. Researchers at Stanford Medicine recently collaborated with Apple to launch the Apple Heart Study in November 20183. They hypothesized that the mobile app could successfully identify atrial fibrillation by intermittently checking the heart-rate pulse sensor on the watch for irregular heartbeat which if detected, resulted in the participant receiving a notification suggesting to schedule a visit with their doctor. They plan to publish their results in early 2019 and Apple announced they would include an electrocardiogram (EKG) with their newest model.
Google Glass, a wearable computing technology in the form of a headset shaped as eyeglasses, can take pictures, transmit data, and record videos hands free4. In one procedure, the augmented reality headset displayed the images of the patient’s arteries during the procedure without looking at the dedicated monitors opposite the patient. Similarly, it was found that Google Glass took images so clear that remote cardiologists could interpret a coronary angiography without being present during the procedure. With recent advancement in telerobotics, physicians may one day also be able to treat patients remotely.
There have also been a number of technological advancements on the treatment side. In cardiology, physicians are able to perform coronary angioplasty with the help of robotic systems. CorPath is the first FDA cleared robotic-assisted platform for percutaneous coronary and peripheral vascular interventions. While the system is currently used in a single-hospital setting, the technology was recently successfully used in the world’s first telerobotic coronary intervention study, where five procedures were completed by a physician located approximately 20 miles away. The success of this study paves the way for a new standard of patient care that could allow greater access to skilled specialists and reduce time to treatment which has the potential to reduce rates of death and permanent disability. As wireless capabilities expand, technology and robotics could be the key to the future for populations not readily accessible to healthcare.
While technological advancements in treatment are constantly improving patient care, it’s important to remember that 80% of heart disease is preventable6. Make your health a priority, understand your risks and learn how to prevent it.
Interested in learning more about heart disease and innovations in robotic intervention?