It sometimes strikes without warning. People of any age, race, ethnicity and gender are at risk. In fact, it is the leading killer of both men and women in America. It is heart disease, and each year it claims the lives of over 600,000 Americans, accounting for one-quarter of all deaths in the United States. 

The importance of prevention

Seeing your doctor for regular screenings and check-ups is the best way to prevent more lives being claimed by heart disease. Knowing the signs of a heart attack, including chest discomfort and shortness of breath, also makes a critical difference between life and death.

While taking these preventative measures is crucial, the reality is that each year, 790,000 Americans suffer a heart attack. Heart disease can also take the form of a stroke, heart failure, arrhythmia and heart valve problems. When these conditions strike, doctors rely on medical technology to save lives and mitigate future risks.

The state of tech today

Medical advancements have helped add two years to U.S. life expectancy and reduce heart disease fatalities by 35 percent just since the year 2000.

Pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators are commonly used to control the heart’s rhythm, and a left ventricular assist device can help maintain the pumping ability of a heart that can’t work effectively on its own. When heart valve replacement is needed, advanced implants can mimic and function like a natural, healthy heart valve, opening and closing with each heartbeat. A minimally-invasive procedure called angioplasty with stenting can also be used to open blocked arteries and restore normal blood flow to a person’s heart muscle using advanced catheter technology.

Newer technologies hold even more promise. Advances in artificial intelligence, for example, have been able to provide more precise readings of diagnostic scans for heart disease, picking up details that doctors cannot see.

The power of progress

The use of such technologies to diagnose and treat heart disease as well as promote heart recovery is making an enormous impact on people’s lives. According to the National Center for Health Statistics 2016 report on health in America, medical advancements have helped add two years to U.S. life expectancy and reduce heart disease fatalities by 35 percent just since the year 2000.

Annual doctor visits and healthy lifestyle changes remain key defenses in the fight against heart disease, but for many who need medical treatment, decades of innovation in medical technology can mean the difference between life and death. America’s medical technology industry is committed to continuing to bring such life-changing innovations to patients around the world every day.