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By: Scott Whitaker, President and CEO, AdvaMed
February 28, 2018

Tiny Device Tackles Heart Disease

Having spent the majority of my career in the life sciences industry, I often hear the personal stories of those impacted by medical innovation. So many families, including mine, are living it. My daughter has Type I diabetes and relies on technology to avert life-threatening low blood sugar levels and related complications. Each story I hear is so uniquely powerful, and serves as a reminder of the importance of continued innovation to society and patients everywhere.

With February being American Heart Month, I wanted to share the story of Jenny DeVoe. One day Jenny was a seemingly healthy mother of two. The next day she was facing a serious heart condition called cardiomyopathy. If not for a tiny pump that allowed her heart to rest and recover, Jenny may have been one of the 430,000 American women over the age of 20 who die each year from heart disease.

The pump, a device made by AdvaMed member company Abiomed, was approved for an expanded indication by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just this month. Impella is the smallest heart pump in the world and it can now be used for complications from cardiomyopathy, as well as peripartum and postpartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. With Impella’s support, Jenny’s condition was treated with a minimally-invasive procedure, instead of severe drug therapy or open-heart surgery, allowing her to fully recover and return to her two children.

With a reported 735,000 Americans suffering from heart attacks each year, our member companies are committed to introducing new medical advancements that facilitate positive outcomes for patients with heart disease. Despite some common misconceptions, heart disease can also appear as a stroke, heart failure, arrhythmia or a heart valve problem. With so many Americans affected, doctors rely on medical technology like Impella to ensure recovery and prevent future risks.

Medical devices have been used to assist doctors and save lives for decades. Pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are commonly used to control the heart’s rhythm, and a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) can help maintain the pumping ability of a heart that can’t work effectively on its own. When a heart valve replacement is needed, advanced implants can mimic and function like a natural, healthy heart valve, opening and closing with each heartbeat. With continuous innovation by the medical technology industry, U.S. life expectancy has increased by two years just since 2000, and heart disease fatalities have decreased by 35% during that time, according to a 2016 report by the National Center for Health.

Newer technologies hold even more promise, with recent innovations increasingly focused on new forms of heart disease, targeted demographics and prevention. With our member companies investing more in the awareness of heart disease, the problem is being tackled from all sides. Awareness and education programs like Abiomed’s newly announced Women’s Initiative for Heart Recovery will impact how heart disease is prevented, diagnosed and treated.

Of course, a robust relationship with a doctor, a healthy diet and exercise are vital in preventing heart disease, but for those who already suffer from a heart condition, the rapid advancement of medical technology ensures patients live longer, more enjoyable lives with their loved ones. Jenny experienced this first hand and thanks to the continued innovation of medical devices and diagnostics, countless other people will as well.