Ranked by expected importance, the first five winners were:
The hybrid closed-loop insulin delivery system is the first artificial pancreas. It helps manage Type 1 diabetes. The new technology improves upon the open loop systems in use today that requires patients to gauge how much insulin to inject based on information from their continuous glucose monitor.
The closed-loop insulin delivery system connects a continuous glucose monitoring device with an insulin pump. This allows the stabilization of blood glucose levels never before possible.
Sufferers of sleep apnea will be able to throw away their noisy, bulky, and uncomfortable continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine in favor of a new implant that stimulates key airway muscles while sleeping to keep them open.
To achieve this, a battery-operated remote or wearable patch sends electrical impulses through a wire (lead) that delivers mild stimulation to the tongue and throat when the wearer’s breathing patterns signal it.
The 21 million Americans who report sleep apnea will be pleased that neuromodulation, as it is called, will bring them (and anyone nearby) relief and a good night’s sleep.
On December 19, 2017, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first gene therapy treatment for an inherited retinal degeneration. Approved for both children and adults, Luxturna was the first gene therapy to gain FDA approval in the United States. The treatment targets retinal diseases caused by mutations in the RPE65 gene.
The idea behind this solution to inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) is to use viruses, also called vectors, to carry a new normal working copy of a diseased gene to selected cells in the body. IRDs are rare genetic conditions which lead inevitably to progressive vision loss and blindness.
Gene therapy holds great promise for becoming a mainstream practice and more new technologies for helping people with IRDs are expected in the near future.
There are two kinds of cholesterol: good and bad. The bad kind is called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. It produces artery-clogging fatty deposits. Plaque build-up results in atherosclerosis, reduced arterial blood flow in the heart, brain, kidney, and extremities.
Left untreated, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, angina, chronic kidney disease, or coronary heart disease (the nation’s leading killer) may develop.
Statins have been used since FDA approval in 1986 to “block the HMG CoA Reductase enzyme the liver uses to make cholesterol.” PCSK9 inhibitors lower LDL by blocking the cholesterol-producing liver enzyme, thus allowing the body to cleanse LDL particles in the extracellular fluid.
An August 2017 study of 25,982 patients found a “20 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction or stroke for those that took statins and PCSK9 inhibitors to reach ultra-low LDL levels. No adverse events were reported.”
This is good news indeed for the hundreds of thousands of heart patients worldwide.
One important trend in modern health care is an evolving attitude toward patient DIY – do it yourself. Distance health technologies – or telehealth – permit immediate, efficient, and best possible outcomes.
Off-site or remote access to monitoring a physical condition empowers someone with a physical disability or infirmity to participate in their treatment program without leaving home. Likewise, home treatment keeps sick people away from medical waiting rooms where they can spread infections.
Mobile technologies such as smartphones and broadband internet service are viewed by medical professionals as the key to patient interdependence. How big is this trend toward digital diagnosis and patient management?
“90% of healthcare executives reported to have or are currently building a telehealth program. Reports also predict 7 million patient users in 2018, a 19-fold increase from 2013.”
The number of telehealth users is expected to grow by leaps and bounds this year:
“Over 19 million patients are projected to use remote monitoring devices that feed information to their doctors in 2018.”
The Cleveland Clinic has linked their Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit with a stroke neurologist, a neuroradiologist, and a patient’s home. These coordinated communications have resulted in a 40 percent reduction in the response time for treating acute stroke.
Fast action increases the chances of a stroke victim’s ability to regain body functions lost due to interrupted blood flow to the brain.
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Stay tuned for the Cleveland Clinic’s final five of their Top Ten 2018 Medical Innovations in Part 2!