What differentiates a good surgeon from an exceptional surgeon? Unlike a good surgeon, exceptional surgeons have the unique ability, perhaps gained through years of experience, of visualizing a human organ in their minds. It is certainly easier said than done, and only a handful of top surgeons around the world are likely to be able to do this with some level of accuracy. But emerging 3-D technology may soon change that and hopefully change how operations as fragile as those dealing with the human heart are dealt with.
Dassault Systèmes is a French company that specializes in 3-D software that helps engineers designing cars and planes avoid potentially fatal flaws in their design by providing accurate 3-D models. Dassault Systèmes is hoping to bring this technology into the world of human heart surgery with the launch of their “Living Heart Project.” The Living Heart Project will work to provide hospitals and surgeons with the technology necessary for modeling a human heart in 3-D from a patient’s scan. The surgeon can wear 3-D glasses and use a joystick to zoom in and out of different parts of the heart as well as listen to the heart beats.
Reconstructing the human heart in 3-D can be useful to test out several possibilities before a big surgical procedure is performed, and much of the activity around the Living Heart Project is focused on researching the human heart in a way that we couldn’t before.
But much skepticism exist around this technology, with some fearing that doctors should not rely too much new, untested technology as opposed to more traditional forms of medical research. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has held back on openly endorsing Dassault Systèmes’ tech, but have been working closely in using it for research purposes. Doctors have not received regulatory approval for using this 3-D technology in making medical decisions, but hospitals can use them for educational and research purposes as well.
The software behind the Living Heart Project is provided by Dassault Systèmes for free to organizations who agree to conduct and share the results of research. There are currently 45 partner organizations working with the Living Heart Project, including Stanford University, University of Oxford and the Mayo Clinic. For those that would need to license this technology, the rates are currently very affordable. $15,000 a year for commercial use while an education license starts at $500 per year.
We all know how dangerous smoking is for the human body and how it can destroy everything from the lungs, to the heart, and other vital organs. The consumption of cigarettes with their dangerous toxins has been found and known to cause deterioration in all areas of the human body as well as cause cancer of various kinds. There are many misconceptions regarding smoking though where some people believe certain kinds of smoking are not as dangerous as others. I hope that this article can help set the record straight in regards to the danger and harm caused by smoking.
Cigarettes are not the only culprit when it comes to suffering health and heart problems. Electronic cigarettes, hookahs, and waterpipes all hurt your heart and your body in general. The European Society of Cardiology has found that each of these forms of smoking are just as dangerous as traditional cigarettes.
Dr. Joep Perk from the ESC was quoted in saying “smoking of all types is still, without any competition, the strongest risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It beats everything.” Dr. Joep went on to say, “There has been a lot of research over the past 2-3 years which makes us very clear that all tobacco use, including the water pipe, smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes, is simply not good for your health.”
Some studies have even alluded to the fact that water pipes and hookahs could be more dangerous than cigarettes. Dr. Perk has found that the longer smoking sessions with these devices paired with deeper and more prolonged inhalations could lead to increased levels of toxin exposure. Electronic cigarettes are another major risk factor as they are quite useful when trying to quit smoking however it has led an increased population of youths to pick up the deadly habit.
At Sutherland Cardiology Clinic, three cardiologists have employed a new method and device into their heart surgeries. Keith Anderson, James Litzow, Claro Diaz have successfully planted an FDA approved heart failure monitoring device into a patient. The patient’s name is William Brown who is a two year cardiac risk patient. The device is known as the CardioMEMS HF System. The successful procedure took place at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital, located in Germantown, Tennessee.
The CardioMEMS HF System has been tested and proven to to reduce hospital admission when used by physicians to manage heart failure drastically. The device was developed by St. Jude Medical, which is a Minnesota-based device manufacturer.
Currently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention peg 5.1 million Americans as heart-risk individuals will heart failure. They also report 670,000 new cases of heart failure each year. These people are frequently hospitalized and have a lower quality of life and high probability of early death.
The CardioMEMS HF System is designed to last the patient’s whole life and does not require batteries for power. The device has a wireless sensor that sends pressure readings to an external system. The reading that are submitted to the other device allow alert physicians and detect any other symptoms and keep a close eye on the patient’s health. These readings allow the doctors to adjust their plans accordingly to best help the patient.
Keith Anderson was quoted in saying “We constantly are searching for new technology that can help heart failure patients live long, fulfilling lives. “CardioMEMS helps improve the outcome for heart failure patients and gives us the opportunity to closely monitor them using a physician-lead team based approach. If an issue arises, we can intervene quickly.”
Kottayam Medical College in Kottayam is getting some much needed help from the government of Kerala. The Department of Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery will be transformed soon enough with new technology and equipment. There will soon be the Regional Cardiology Center in the model of the Ahmedabad centre.
The Secretary of the Health Department is responsible for conducting the feasibility study. T.K. Jayakumar and Dr. V.L. Jayaprakash are two other officers appointed to the project to move it along.
The new Department of Cardiology will get it’s autonomy if and only if it is made into the Regional Cardiology Centre. The central government will also be helping with funding for the project to provide better facilities and technology for healthcare use. Another major positive with the new project is the ability of the Medical College being able to offer more post-graduate course related to cardiology and cardiac surgery. Which will be extremely useful in the region.
Currently the Kottayam Medical College Hospital is responsible for most of the cardiac surgeries, angiograms, and angioplasties conducted in the government sector in the state. The hospital has also been given approval to conduct heart transplants.
Currently the hospital/medical college relies on a 10-year-old cath lab for angiogram and angioplasty procedures. Many patients rely on the Medical College for its health practices and are generally from Pathanamthitta, Idukki, Alappuzha, Kollam, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts.
The Department of Cardiology at the Medical College has two distinct wings. The Medical College has asked for the creation of the posts of a professor, an associate professor and two assistant professors. The government has yet to decide on the request. The Department of Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery spans 65,000 square feet of space in three floors. The space can accommodate about 200 patients at a given time. There are a total of 40 beds in the intensive care unit and 25 beds in the postoperative intensive care unit.
Philips recently launched a new revolutionary application for cardiovascular medical professionals. The web-enabled image and information management system is known as IntelliSpace Cardiovascular. The application is a single and fully integrated workspace that provides a thorough and full view of patient’s health on an individual and unique basis. This new tool gives cardiologists an all in one system to help diagnose problems and provide carefully executed solutions for better care.
The new tool provides doctors with a much more streamlined and efficient way of caring for patients while increasing positive outlooks. Doctors in possession of IntelliSpace Cardiovascular can view the patient’s entire history from their diagnosis to therapy and everything in between. No longer will unnecessary tests or reporting be done as all the information is in one centralized location.
IntelliSpace Cardiovascular will be used to help improve the workflow of patients involved in cardiovascular treatments from anywhere. There is another very important technology found within the new application. There is a built in echocardiography reporting feature that gives cardiologists the ability to properly identify and eliminate any problems or inaccuracies within the reports.
There are many built in features that come standard with IntelliSpace Cardiovascular. Some of the features include access to a vast array of data which includes discrete information regarding a patient’s condition. There are also analytics tools used to compile and organize data into manageable and searchable materials. The data will be able to be read by doctors, nurses, administrative staff, and background researchers. This new technological advancement will keep everything buttoned up and allow the professionals more time to care for patients.
Everyone feels the pressure of today’s healthcare. It can build up on families and patients already admitted to hospitals and its a hard problem to correct. People are fed up with the bills that continue to roll in for one expense after another.
According to a recent survey by EHealth, 6 in 10 Americans claim to be more worried about funding their medical expenses than planning their retirement or covering their children’s education. This is very unfortunate complex subjects like retirement have been widely considered the number one savings expense for adults. On the other hand providing a stimulating and healthy education for one’s children is extremely important and should be one of the first things taken care of financially as a family.
Another major problem with the strain that medical bills is associated with, is the patient’s work status. Quite often and unfortunately enough, people lose their jobs as a result of a major injury or long hospital stay. Without a job many patients lose their health care and are thus forced to pay their medical expenses out of pocket. Pending the injury or illness those bills add up and can put patients under enormous pressures and crushing debt.
As the rising healthcare costs continue to grow year after year, expenses that individuals and families had set aside for other purposes, decreases at an alarming rate. There has been a large effort to slow down the trend but little has been accomplished in terms of helping patients debt.
Paul Ginsburg who is the director of public policy at USC’s Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics is quoted in saying “The overall cost to everybody has slowed, but one of the reasons they’ve slowed is that there’s been a shifting of costs to patients.”
There are some tools in the process of testing that will help to relieve financial strain on patients. The healthcare industry is trying to be more open as to what care actually costs down to a smaller level so patients can shop around by price and find the most affordable options. This new method is sure to push doctors to suggest more price-conscious options when it comes to care for patients.