Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year. However, in recent years, we have made big strides in treatment and prevention of heart disease. Here are 3 advancements that could impact patients. 

1. Safer hospital-based monitoring

In the hospital, a patient may be safer having their heart remotely monitored from an offsite facility which monitors non-critically ill patients 24/7.

”Alarm fatigue” has long been an issue in hospitals, and important warning signs can be missed. Studies have found up to 44 percent of inpatient cardiac arrests are not detected appropriately. At clinics and hospitals that monitor patients in the room, serious changes occur in nearly 80 percent of patients prior to an emergency response team deployment.

In situations where an offsite facility directly notified the emergency response teams, there was a 93 percent survival of cardiopulmonary arrests. Now, thanks to a novel algorithm being developed, technicians can better risk-stratify patients. This could lead to further expansion of offsite capabilities.

2. Less invasive approach to mitral valve replacement

As studies continue to show the benefits, more centers are utilizing transcatheter aortic valve replacement. In this procedure, a cathereter guided into the heart deploys a new aortic valve. Specialists are able to do this without opening the chest, allowing patients who can’t handle open surgery to have valve replacements.

A new procedure being studied is a transcatheter approach to mirtal valve replacement. In this procedure, the valve is implanted transapically. Surgeons are able to do the replacement with just a small incision. Currently, the procedure is being studied in highly symptomatic patients who are considered high risk. However, in the future, this may be offered to more people.

3. A new way to reduce cholesterol

For the last 20 years, statin medications have been effective in reducing cholesterol in heart patients. They’ve been shown to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 35 percent. However, some patients cannot tolerate statins or they aren’t effective.

Now, a new class of drugs is on the market that can help these patients. Called PCSK9 inhibitors, these new medications are taken by injection and work by inactiviating a specific protein. They’ve been shown to reduce LDL (”bad” cholesterol) by 50-60 percent. Now, studies are being conducted to see if this type of medication can actually reduce plaque in the arteries.