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New Advances in Heart Disease Treatment

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Heart disease is the nation’s number one killer, claiming the lives of almost 6 million Americans. But not all of those people die from a heart attack or stroke.

The treatment of HF is advancing rapidly, and new devices are being added to the clinical arsenal. These new technologies, combined with tailored medical management, will likely help patients live longer and improve their quality of life.

Medications

Similar to how Sam Lee Prospect Medical is committed to providing innovative treatments that may be the answer to heart illnesses, new medications may be an efficient approach to minimize your risk for heart disease. For instance, if your family has a history of extremely high cholesterol, a class of PCSK9 inhibitors may help prevent or lessen heart attacks.

These injectable drugs work differently than statins, affecting the genes that create high levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. They can be an alternative to statins for people with familial hypercholesterolemia or who don’t respond well to current medications.

The newest pacemakers and implantable cardiac defibrillators contain sensors that monitor oxygen levels in the blood, physical activity, body temperature, adrenaline, and hormones to help the device regulate your heartbeat more closely to what it should be naturally.

Another option for patients with advanced heart failure is a specialized device, such as a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, that pumps blood to the heart from outside the body. This battery-powered device, which can be used as a primary treatment or a bridge to a transplant in adults, allows many patients to leave the hospital and live more independently.

Surgical Procedures

Heart surgery treats some heart failure patients when medication or lifestyle changes aren’t working. It can also be done to correct certain problems, such as a blockage in a coronary artery.

The most common type of heart surgery is coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). In this procedure, a healthy artery from elsewhere in the body is taken and connected to supply blood around a blocked part of the artery.

Another type of heart surgery is aortic valve repair or replacement. It’s usually performed to reduce heart enlargement and improve pumping function.

In this procedure, your doctor uses a long, thin tube called a catheter to guide a blood vessel in the groin, arm, or neck. The tube is guided to your heart and then attached to your aortic valve.

Catheter ablation, sometimes called “maze surgery,” treats atrial fibrillation. It is a minimally invasive procedure that makes small cuts in the heart muscle, making scars that prevent abnormal electrical signals from moving through your heart.

Radiofrequency Ablation

In addition to new medications and surgical procedures, some patients benefit from using a less-invasive procedure called radiofrequency ablation (RFA). This procedure uses heat to target specific nerves that may be causing your pain.

RFA is a relatively safe and low-risk procedure that has been shown to relieve pain in more than 70% of patients. However, a few side effects and complications may occur.

For example, suppose you are taking blood-thinning medication or have a history of bleeding problems. In that case, you may need to stop taking those medications for several days before the procedure.

During the procedure, your doctor will inject a small amount of local anesthetic into the spots targeted for RFA. Then, your doctor will insert a tiny probe that emits radiofrequency energy. You will feel a pinch and burning sensation at each spot.

Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator

The ICD can help to prevent a sudden cardiac arrest by sending electrical pulses to correct abnormal heart rhythms, such as irregular or fast heart rates (tachycardia) or slow heart rates (bradycardia).

If your doctor thinks you have dangerously abnormal heart rhythms that could lead to a fatal arrhythmia, they may recommend an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. This device monitors your heart’s rate and rhythm 24 hours a day.

When it detects an abnormally fast or irregular heart rate, the ICD sends a small painless electrical signal to the heart to correct it. Then, the device delivers a shock to restore normal heart rhythm.

Your cardiologist will program your ICD for the specific rhythm needs of your heart. It can also act as a basic pacemaker to stimulate your heart to beat faster whenever it drops below a preset rate.

During surgery, your doctor threads one or more flexible, insulated wires called leads through veins near the collarbone to access your heart. The leads attach to a device under the skin beneath the collarbone connected to a shock generator.