I recently attended the 3rd annual World Medical Innovation Forum, a symposium based upon collaborative partnerships among academia, industry and government to foster innovative solutions to improve healthcare. This year, the forum focused on cardiovascular and cardio-metabolic care.
The three-day symposium launched with “First Look” presentations from 19 scientists, whose labs are engaged in cutting edge discoveries that will impact treatment of many forms of cardiovascular disease (CVD) from aortic valve disease and atrial fibrillation; to understanding the causes and outcomes of CVD in the context of what precision medicine can bring to the table. Other exciting work includes the study of disease patterns of cardiac disease in cancer patients, diabetes and, hypertension and what can be done, going forward, to change the development and outcomes of these condition.
The importance of focusing on cardiovascular disease cannot be understated. Anthony Rosenzweig, MD, chief of cardiology and co-director of the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center at MGH, describes a paradox at the center of heart disease: “On the one hand, the last half-century has seen a dramatic drop in death rates among patients hospitalized for a heart attack. On the other hand, survivors often go on to develop chronic conditions that are expensive and ultimately deadly,” he said.
The implications are quite clear. Data compiled from a collaborative study of the American Heart Association the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health, from more than 190 countries, reveals that heart disease remains the No.1 global cause of death with 17.3 million deaths each year. Diabetes, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases are listed as the underlying cause of 801,000 deaths in the US alone.
Each 0day approximately 2,200 Americans die of CVD, an average of 1 death every 40 seconds. CVDs claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined. About 92.1 million American adults are living with some form of CVD or the after-effects of stroke. Direct and indirect costs are estimated to total more than $316 billion; that includes both health expenditures and lost productivity.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also reports that CVD is the #1 cause of death globally. “An estimated 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2012, representing 31% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.4 million were due to coronary heart disease and 6.7 million were due to stroke. Over three quarters of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries”.
What was unique about this World Medical Innovation Forum were the presentations of medical professionals and scientists who are shaping the future of cardiovascular disease with discoveries that combine innovative therapies, with digital technologies.
For example, one lab at Harvard Medical School is investigating ways to achieve better outcomes for patients with aortic stenosis, a disease devastating to an aging population. Targeting the problem at an early stage and substituting therapeutics for invasive surgeries is one of their goals.
Other presenters talked about their efforts to gain insights into the relationship between cardiovascular disease and an individual’s gene profile. There is also a group of researchers analyzing the relationships between cardiac fitness and long term cancer survival. There is cutting edge work being done in the area of diabetes management to reduce the long-term risks of heart attack and kidney failure in patients with diabetes.