Cardiovascular Medical Devices: The Latest Innovations

Cardiovascular disease is of the leading causes of death worldwide. The CDC reports that one in four deaths in the United States is caused by cardiovascular disease. This trend has been exacerbated by the fact that Covid-19 caused cardiovascular complications in 10%-20% of patients who were hospitalized.

Minimally invasive procedures have been growing in popularity to treat various cardiovascular and other conditions replacing traditional surgery, especially during the pandemic.Traditional surgery carries greater risks and requires a longer stay at a hospital for recovery time which init of itself comes with heightened risk.

In this article, we take a look at some of the latest innovations in cardiovascular medical devices that have been used successfully during the pandemic.

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Cardiovascular Medical Devices Innovations

Smart Balloon Catheter systems

Balloon catheter systems have been used in cardiac ablation, a procedure that’s used to treat cardiac arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, etc. Recent advances in this technology include the use of complex electronics and sensors that are able to deliver the ablative effect via laser or electrical stimulation, or by pulsed electric fields or by radiofrequency energy; read blood flow, and other hematologic data; sense pressure and temperature. In addition, the system is now available with flexible electrode actuators – which is extremely useful in micro-navigation. 

Endoscopic Vessel Harvesting (EVM) Systems

When a coronary bypass has to be performed, surgeons may decide to perform a vessel harvesting procedure. The bypass is performed to restore blood flow to the heart by ‘bypassing’ a blockage in the heart. The ‘bypass’ route is a blood vessel taken from the leg or arm and is grafted in to restore blood flow. Traditionally open surgery required a long incision and a lengthy procedure, but the latest advances enable surgeons to ‘harvest’ the blood vessel through a minimally invasive means, called the endoscopic vessel harvesting system. The demand for EVM technology is growing rapidly, being valued at $400M in 2020.

Stem Cell Therapy
Researchers published a study in The Lancet medical journal, according to which they treated 17 patients that had suffered heart attacks, by injecting stem cells into the heart of the patient. Once injected, the stem cells develop into new heart cells, repairing the damaged tissue. This procedure requires the use of a specialized medical device, namely a catheter, in order to assure precise and safe delivery of stem cells to the heart, utilizing a minimally invasive procedure rather than risk open-heart surgery.

Implantable Devices:

  • Defibrillators
    Otherwise known as ICDs, Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators are automated implants that detect abnormal heart rhythms. ICD’s deliver high-energy, low-energy, and pacing shocks to the heart. This means that ICDs can perform cardioversion, defibrillation. In some cases, also pacing of the heart. Implantable defibrillators act as a permanent safeguard against sudden life-threatening arrhythmias, which would otherwise result in acute heart conditions.

  • LVAD
    A Left Ventricular Assist Device, is a device that is used in critical cases where congenital defects cause the heart to fail or suffer arrhythmias. Surgeons at Penn State Heart have successfully used the novel device since early 2021. The novel Ventricular Assist Device provides critical life support for the patient until a heart transplant can be performed. The device functions as a mechanical pump and prevents hemolysis and the formation of clots within the heart. Previous versions of the LVAD had drawbacks that the latest versions have overcome.

Wireless Devices

With major breakthroughs in surgical technology, the wireless surgical camera is one of the latest. This technology allows surgeons to drop the camera where the arthroscopy is to be performed. The camera can be controlled without the need for wires, cords or any other assisting device. The camera functions with laser-based lighting, designed specifically for the operating room. The technology is a first of its kind and has obtained FDA approval to start the final testing phase.

Soft Robot
Researchers at Harvard University in collaboration with Boston Children’s Hospital, have developed an innovative device that fits around the heart to help it beat. The device, described as a soft robot, resembles a sleeve that can be installed around the heart, which compresses and twists in sync with the patient’s nominal heartbeat. Its operation is predicted to augment cardiovascular functions that have been weakened due to previous heart failure. A differentiating factor of this soft robot compared to currently available cardiovascular medical devices serving a similar function, is that it does so indirectly, without coming into direct contact with the patient’s blood.

AI Predictive Algorithms
At first glance, an algorithm doesn’t fit the conventional notion of a cardiovascular medical device. However, international medical device regulations specifically recognize software as a medical device: to be used for medical purposes without being part of a hardware medical device.
Google’s health-tech subsidiary, Verily, uses large data sets of eye images in correlation with the patient’s health information, in order to develop a predictive algorithm for cardiovascular health based on a patient’s eyes. Such a medical device is Verily’s artificial intelligence algorithm that “promises to predict heart disease just by taking one glance at a patient’s eyes”. 

Tackling the Challenges of Innovation
It is not uncommon for a company to engage in the design and development of an innovative novel medical device. Only to deal with prototype scaling and manufacturability issues along the way. So when designing an innovative medical device, it is imperative to work with an experienced manufacturing partner. This will safeguard your bottom line, and supply you with knowledge and information that will make your device manufacturable, cost-efficient, and effective. 

Quasar has been the manufacturing partner of choice for novel medical device companies around the globe, for more than 30 years. Get in touch with Quasar to discover how you can kick-start your new device or optimize your existing cardiovascular medical device projects.

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