Advancements in medical technology have helped to prolong and increase the quality of life for many patients with conditions that would have once been terminal. Correcting issues after the fact and addressing them before they ever become an issue are two different things, however. While more people are surviving heart attacks and strokes than ever before, the next step is detecting and preventing them before they ever occur. Preventing heart attacks and strokes is dependent on preventing heart disease. Here are three ways technology is helping to detect heart disease early on, to help prevent the most damaging outcomes.
Most scans can only detect abnormalities in bone or dense tissue. Arterial inflammation is one of the most prevalent clues to heart disease, but as of yet there are no scans or tests to detect it. Researchers are currently working on noninvasive tests and scans like a low-dose CT Scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to provide a number of details about the heart’s structure and how it is functioning. The test can even detect calcium deposits, which are some of the earliest signs of coronary artery disease. A heartFlow FFR CT uses data from a standard CT scan to create a personalized 3D model of the coronary arteries. This allows doctors to detect any restrictions in the vessel and determine their impact on blood flow.
Heart disease can be brought on or exacerbated by a number of other conditions, so helping to treat and prevent the conditions that cause heart disease can also help minimize the disease itself. New medical devices can help treat underlying conditions on a long-term or permanent basis to help stave off heart disease. These devices include a permanent heart implant that permanently closes off atrial appendages in order to keep blood clots from escaping that may potentially cause a stroke, devices that can help keep heart failure from worsening due to a leaky heart valve or help create increased circulation throughout the body.
Technology is helping doctors perform a wider range of non-surgical procedures that can help protect the heart without dangerous or invasive surgeries. These include procedures like a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI). During the procedure, a doctor can use catheters to place a stent which opens up closed or blocked blood vessels. Procedures such as these are particularly important for patients who are too high risk for other bypass procedures.