8 breakthrough treatments for heart disease

Based on the latest WHO data published in 2017, Coronary Heart Disease Deaths in Malaysia has reached 30,598 or 22.13% of total deaths.

The age-adjusted death rate is 137.02 per 100,000 of the population which ranks Malaysia as number 63 in the world.

Despite these alarming findings, there has been some significant developments in heart disease treatment that are now advancing rapidly.

1. New class of drugs designed to treat heart failure

Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan) can reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death from heart failure by 20%.

Entresto combines Valsartan with Sacubitiril to inhibit a substance in the body that causes the tightening of blood vessels. This blocks a heart-damaging enzyme.

2. New diabetes drug EMPA-REG (empagliflozin)

This drug appears to be effective in reducing deaths from cardiac disease as well as maintaining healthy blood sugars. It can reduce heart attacks and strokes in patients with diabetes. The drug also lowers blood pressure and body weight.

3. Mini-pacemakers

Tiny pacemakers can be inserted through a catheter directly into the heart. The benefit of this technique is that it does not create a bulge under the skin of the chest. An example of a mini-pacemaker is Nanostim.

Some disadvantage however was reported as well. Its use was paused for some time because some mini-pacemakers became dislodged and caused perforations to the heart tissue.

It was also reported that mini-pacemakers were not suitable for patients whose hearts had more than one chamber that required pacing.

Perhaps more research is needed to check its feasibility and approval but it is still gaining positive feedback for its effectiveness in some cases.

4. Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

This new technology is useful for patients where surgery is too risky. This collapsible valve can be implanted through the femoral artery in the groin or a small incision in the chest which can be expanded after it is in the heart.

It is useful for individuals for whom conventional valve-replacement surgery is not suitable.

5. Tiny cardiovascular remote monitoring device

A tiny device can be implanted in the pulmonary artery. This carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs.

It is inserted through a small incision in the femoral vein and threaded to the pulmonary artery. This then measures pressure from fluid buildup before any symptoms show up.

The information is then identified, detected and transmitted by an antenna within a special pillow that the patient can rest on. The device was medically approved by the FDA in 2014.

A group of individuals at Huntington are working on other less-invasive forms of remote monitoring through a smartphone app that uses a built-in flashlight to measure the quantity of blood pumped by the heart.

6. New drugs for lowering high levels of LDL cholesterol

Two new drugs for lowering high levels of LDL cholesterol received FDA approval in 2015 – Alirocumab (Praluent) and Evolocumab (Repatha).

These drugs function by enabling the liver to pull more LDL cholesterol from the body so it can be eliminated.

The drugs are given via an injection every few weeks and are meant to be used in addition to and not in lieu of other treatments.

7. Regeneration of damaged heart cells

It is thought that damaged hearts can heal more rapidly and completely after a heart attack.

By controlling the protein Neuregulin — a protein necessary for normal heart progress in mice, researchers were able to stimulate the regeneration of heart cells.

In the research conducted, this method worked in adult and young mice, and made damaged hearts almost as good as new.

However according to Richard Harvey, a professor of heart research at the Victor Chang Research Cardiac Institute, “Current drug therapies and revascularisation (re-creating blood flow through bypass or angioplasty) while saving many lives after an acute heart attack do not prevent progression to heart failure.”

Scientists are still discovering if this will work for human heart tissue.

8. Restructuring of heart tissues

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have created a collagen structure to avert tissue collapse by tailoring a low-cost commercial 3D printer.

They were able to “print” or restructure models of a brain and heart, according to research that they published in the journal, Science Advances.

Various heart-disease treatment breakthroughs are constantly in the making and will potentially pave the way for better prognosis in individuals with cardiovascular diseases.

This article was written in collaboration with Naluri and first appeared in hellodoktor.com. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.