As the world battles the pandemic with a focus on protecting people with underlying health conditions like cardiovascular disease (CVD), it’s worth remembering that CVD itself is far deadlier than Covid-19 — with nearly 400 percent more deaths each year compared to the virus.
According to the World Health Organisation, CVD kills an average of 17.9 million per year (3.93 times more than Covid-19), making it the leading cause of deaths globally.
Heart disease occurs when plaque develops in the arteries and blood vessels that lead to the heart, blocking important nutrients and oxygen. It’s a huge health problem in MENA due to sedentary lifestyles, smoking, and fatty fast food diets. In the UAE alone, research suggests CVD is responsible for one in five deaths.
These staggering statistics have put finding new ways to treat conditions of the cardiovascular system at the forefront of medicine – but science is bringing new weapons to the battleground.
State-of-the-art digital health technologies are being continually introduced in the field of cardiology to counterstroke, heart attack, heart failure and other cardiovascular risks – in addition to advancements in mitral and aortic valve repairs and replacements.
And in this region there are few medical establishments as close to the cutting edge in cardiovascular treatment as American Hospital Dubai. The sprawling general medical/surgical private hospital has high-tech facilities and an experienced team of healthcare professionals specialised in more than 40 medical and surgical specialties. It provides American standards of treatment and care to heart patients in the UAE, as well as those attending from neighbouring areas.
But it is the hospital’s revered Heart and Vascular Centre that is changing the game. Integrating the extensive skills and experience of its multidisciplinary team it treats conditions of the heart, lungs, chest and the entire vascular system with the help of the latest innovations.
It is one of a small, select group of medical centres worldwide capable of undertaking advanced interventional and surgical procedures. Complex procedures, such as minimally invasive heart surgeries and beating heart bypass surgeries, state-of-the-art heart valve repairs and advanced aortic arch procedures, are all performed at American Hospital Dubai with phenomenal results.
A good example of its use of innovation in cardiac care is Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive procedure to replace an aortic valve that has narrowed to the point that it fails to open correctly, preventing blood from flowing into the aorta and on to the rest of the body.
“This new technology at American Hospital Dubai offers an excellent option for patients whose general condition or some specific factor puts them at serious risk of complications arising from open heart surgery as the device is implanted via a catheter that is inserted through the leg and guided into place in the heart,” explains Dr Heyman Luckraz, Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at American Hospital Dubai.
Another technology that the hospital has introduced to fight cardiovascular diseases is the novel Watchman device, which is surgically implanted to close off the left atrial appendage (LAA) section of the heart to prevent harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream. In this way the risk of a stroke is reduced, particularly in patients with atrial fibrillation in which the heart beats irregularly and as a result is prone to producing blood clots.
There is also MitraClip – an innovative medical device that utilises the edge-to-edge surgical method of valve repair.
Professor Dr Firas Alani, Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiologist and Director of the Heart and Vascular Centre at American Hospital Dubai, said this device is truly unique.
“It consists of a large clip that grasps both the anterior and posterior leaflets of the mitral valve,” he says.
“Currently, MitraClip is the only transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVr) device that has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat patients with heart failure symptoms and moderate-to-severe or severe secondary (functional) mitral regurgitation (leak) — especially in patients who are considered to be at high risk for open heart surgery.”
Treatment for arterial thrombosis
The heart and vascular centre at American Hospital Dubai has started to offer the most modern therapy technologies in the vascular surgery field.
“Acute and subacute limb ischemia is a potentially life-threatening condition,” says Dr Eyad Hassan, Consultant Cardiovascular surgeon.
“For decades, surgical treatment was the standard therapy. Another option is catheter-directed intra-arterial thrombolysis. One of the most modern technologies for the treatment of this life-threatening condition is the endo-vascular mechanical thrombectomy.”
Dr Hassan explains, “There’s been a necessity for a minimally invasive way to quickly remove the relatively large thrombus mass, especially in the aging population. This approach is feasible by using percutaneous mechanical thrombectomy devices.
“They enable rapid removal of thrombus that is comparable to surgical embolectomy with the advantage of selective angiography-controlled procedure, mostly followed by other adjunctive endo-vascular procedures such as balloon angioplasty, stenting, selective thrombus aspirationt from small arteries, and, if necessary, adjunctive local intra-arterial fibrinolysis.” These procedures require only local anesthesia.