ageing

heart innovation health
Given that the number of Europeans aged over 65 will double in the next 50 years, and the number of over 80 year olds will almost triple, it follows that keeping this age group in good health is a particular priority. However, European healthcare systems are at a tipping point, driven by the increasing burden of providing world-class care at a time when the long-term effects of austerity measures are putting pressure on healthcare spending. Keeping these challenges in mind, Heart Month is a good time to reflect on how breakthrough innovation in the area of healthcare can contribute to building a cohesive, prosperous and successful Europe. I spoke recently at a Friends of Europe event to discuss the McKinsey Institute report, Europe 2030 - Towards a Renewed Social Contract . McKinsey proposed that Security, Prosperity and Sustainability should be three pillars of this renewed social contract. I argued that we need to add a fourth pillar of Health, built upon disruptive technological innovation and a commitment to positive ageing. I believe that good health is at the cornerstone of a strong and prosperous Europe. It is also a reciprocal responsibility; we citizens should take personal responsibility for our own health and, in return, those running our healthcare systems should provide the best treatment for us when we are ill. However, the impact of disruptive technology in improving healthcare system sustainability for the benefit of patients is not fully appreciated in Europe. This innovation can transform medical practice, with faster procedures and reduced lengths of hospital stay. It can lead, as a consequence, to more patients benefiting; and it can even potentially reduce long-term costs, both within the healthcare system and in social care for older people. We need to rekindle our openness to healthcare innovation in Europe. Our health...
In September , I chaired a European Parliament roundtable with MEPs and five other cardiac patient organisations on Heart Valve Disease and the Power of Positive Ageing. Our message was simple - heart valve disease is a barrier to active and healthy ageing: early detection, diagnosis and treatment with innovative medical technologies enables positive ageing. Equal access to these technologies was at the core of our discussion. Heart valve disease is a common and blameless disease of ageing. Around 13% of people aged over-75 have some form of the disease. It is both life-limiting and potentially life-threatening; 50% of people with severe aortic stenosis, the most common form of the disease, will die within 2 years if not appropriately treated. Yet, it does not have to be like this. Surgical heart valve repair or replacement are proven treatments and we are now living through a period of exciting and impressive advances in treating the disease with minimally invasive and keyhole techniques. Repairing or replacing a diseased valve can, in effect, cure the condition. Blood will once again flow through the heart the way in which nature designed it and patients can anticipate a better and longer quality of life. This is where the Power of Positive Ageing comes in. The ageing demographics of Europe are frequently viewed as a negative thing, whereas we believe and know that healthy older people contribute significantly and in very positive ways to our families, communities and economies. After all, we know that many people over the age of 65 care for their partners or look after grandchildren so that their own children can go to work. In the UK, Age UK estimates that this care is worth £15bn to the country’s economy. Here in Ireland, our senior population are literally running our communities by...