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The Increasing Role of Technology in Combatting Cardiovascular Disease

Filed on June 15, 2020 | Last updated on June 16, 2020 at 08.49 am

It is now widely acknowledged that heart disease is a significant concern around the world, more so in the MENA region. From sedentary lifestyles to smoking and unhealthy diets, heart failure is a prolonged condition with ever-increasing numbers.

According to research, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for one in five deaths in the UAE. One in four adults in Saudi Arabia is likely to have a heart attack within the next 10 years.  Another comprehensive study conducted five years ago showed that CVD was responsible for 34 per cent of all deaths in the Middle Eastern region. The same study points out CVD is the leading cause of all health globally, steeply rising with old age.

As the premier private healthcare provider and a leader of excellence in cardiology in the Middle East, American Hospital Dubai continues to enhance its Heart and Vascular Center to combat this issue. The centre integrates extensive skills and experience of its multidisciplinary team to treat conditions of the heart, lungs, chest and the entire vascular system with the help of the latest innovations and advanced techniques in the arena of cardiovascular medicine to diagnose, monitor and manage all types of heart conditions. Take, for example, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive procedure which replaces an aortic valve that fails to open correctly (a condition called severe aortic valve stenosis), preventing blood from flowing into the aorta and onward to the rest of the body.

Dr Heyman Luckraz, Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at American Hospital Dubai, commented: "This new technology at the American Hospital Dubai offers an excellent option for patients whose general condition or some specific factor puts them at serious risk of complications arising from open-heart surgery as the device is implanted via a catheter that is inserted through the leg and guided into place in the heart."

Another technology at American Hospital Dubai includes MitraClip. Professor Dr Firas Alani, Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiologist and Chief of the Heart and Vascular Center at American Hospital Dubai, mentioned that this innovative medical device utilises the edge-to-edge surgical method of valve repair. Dr Alani commented: "The device consists of a large clip that grasps both the anterior and posterior leaflets of the mitral valve. Currently, MitraClip is the only transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVr) device that has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat patients with heart failure symptoms and moderate-to-severe or severe secondary (functional) mitral regurgitation (leak) especially in patients who are considered to be at high risk for open heart surgery.

An Australian company, along with a team that included clinical research experts from the Mayo Clinic, has developed the world's first artificially intelligent (AI) stethoscope system called the Stethee.

Dr Khaldoon Taha, Senior Cardiologist at American Hospital Dubai, who has adapted this technology to use with his patients, said: "The Stethee technology, now available at American Hospital Dubai, can analyse heart and lung sounds to build a unique personal biometric signature. The advanced medical device features a revolutionary design that takes less than 20 seconds to deliver clinically validated and accurately verified comparable and shareable biometrics and clinical data for a higher quality of patient care. Data is represented in real-time in the Stethee App and can be easily shared with relevant peers or specialists anywhere in the world."

Another technology that AHD has introduced to fight cardiovascular diseases is the novel Watchman device, which is surgically implanted to close off the left atrial appendage (LAA) section of the heart to prevent harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream. In this way, the risk of a stroke is reduced, particularly in patients with atrial fibrillation where the heart beats irregularly and, as a result, is prone to producing blood clots.

Dr Mustapha Shaaraoui, Consultant Cardiologist at American Hospital Dubai, said: "The LAAC programme was successfully launched at American Hospital Dubai through the coordinated efforts of speciality teams. Traditionally, patients with atrial fibrillation are prescribed long-term blood-thinning drugs, which carry a substantial risk for internal bleeding that can be life-threatening. These blood thinners can be stopped altogether just few months after the LAAC device is fitted. The procedure is minimally invasive and usually takes about an hour with patients ready to leave the hospital within just 24 hours."

The Comprehensive Cardiac Rehabilitation programme at the American Hospital Dubai provides substantial benefits towards improving the wellbeing of a person living with coronary artery disease (CAD) or cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Dr Mahesh Cirasanambati, Consultant Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at American Hospital Dubai, said: "The current data shows a 20-30 per cent reduction in mortality among patients who enrol in the cardiac rehabilitation programme. The rehabilitation programme is well-structured and individualised to meet the optimal needs of a specific cardiac patients that require medical, physical, behavioural, psychosocial and educational support, under direct medical supervision and expertise. Our programme is supported by a multidisciplinary team that is qualified and well-trained to provide a specialised service following an efficient patient care process and evidence-based clinical practice."

The implementation and maintenance of the clinical standards by American Hospital Dubai are based on the guidelines and recommendations of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), American Heart Association (AHA), Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the Joint Commission International (JCI). Patients who are eligible for the cardiac rehabilitation programme at American Hospital Dubai include those who may have experienced a heart attack event, coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), TAVi or Mitraclip procedures, chronic stable angina, or other cardiovascular diseases compromising patients overall functional status and ability to perform their daily activities.

Cardiac rehabilitation services include clinical evaluation, lipid management, nutritional care, smoking cessation counselling and plans, behavioural intervention, psychosocial assessment, and counselling to manage overall stress, oxygen therapy, weight management, and CPAP - BiPAP therapy, amongst others.

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