heart failure

Advances in cardiac medical technology save lives every day. But how can future innovations meet the needs of today’s patients even more? By engaging not only with clinicians but also with patients and people at risk of cardiovascular events, our sector is ensuring that advances in technology focus on their quality of life. For example, less invasive procedures and remote monitoring of implantable devices are addressing patients’ call for technologies that allow them to get on with living life. This can be illustrated by looking at some of the technologies that help to regulate patients’ heartbeats, including pacemakers, defibrillators and cardiac resynchronization therapy devices. First, let’s briefly consider some of the major problems that can arise in heart health. The heart is a muscle that pumps blood through the body. For the heart muscle to contract it needs oxygen (blood supply) and an electrical pulse (rate & rhythm). The two main problems that can occur are obstruction of vessels supplying the heart muscle with blood (heart attack) and problems with the electrical pulse formation and/or conduction (heart rate too fast or too slow). These two problems may be linked: people who have suffered a heart attack or have heart failure, are at higher risk of electrical pulse formation and/or conduction problems, including sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Keeping pace with technology A healthy heart beats 60 to 100 times per minute, pumping about 280 litres of blood every hour. For some people, the heart can beat too slowly, causing dizziness, chronic lack of energy and shortness of breath. This is known as bradycardia. This condition can be treated in some patients by implanting a pacemaker that restores a normal heartbeat. Pacemakers have come a long way in a relatively short time. The traditional pacemaker is a small device implanted under the...
With Europe's ageing population comes several social, economic and environmental benefits. It also brings rising risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD) which must be managed to protect citizens’ wellbeing and the sustainability of our health systems. That is why we are inspired to see 15 European and international health organisations joining forces to form the European Alliance for Cardiovascular Health. Their shared goal is to call on the European Union to set out an ambitious plan of action to tackle the burden of CVD. There is no time to lose. CVD is the leading cause of death in Europe, affecting millions of lives every day. This group of conditions includes heart attacks and strokes, heart failure as well as arrhythmias and congenital heart disease – all of which can have a profound impact on quality of life. So, what do we need to do together to ensure that Europe takes the right actions today to reduce the burden on individuals and society in the future? The vital role of secondary prevention Along with better care and rehabilitation, one of the key messages emerging from the launch of the Alliance is on prevention. This includes secondary prevention to reduce the risk of having a second cardiac event and to manage the health of CVD patients. This struck a chord with us given our work on heart failure. The human heart is like a pump. Its task is to deliver oxygen and nutrients to all cells in the body, as well as removing waste via the bloodstream. Heart failure occurs when the heart’s pumping capacity is reduced, and it can no longer deliver enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This life-threatening disease affects millions of patients for whom the outlook is often poor. It is associated with hospitalisation and early death. For...