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It is now widely acknowledged that heart disease is a significant concern around the world and more so in the Middle East and North Africa. From sedentary lifestyles to smoking and unhealthy diets, heart failure is a prolonged condition with ever-increasing numbers.

According to research, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for one in five deaths in the UAE. One in four adults in Saudi Arabia is likely to have a heart attack within the next ten years. From another comprehensive study conducted five years ago, CVD was responsible for 34 per cent of all deaths in the Middle East.

As the premier private healthcare provider and a leader of excellence in cardiology in the Middle East, American Hospital Dubai (AHD) continues to enhance its Heart and Vascular Center to combat this issue. The centre integrates extensive skills and experience of its multidisciplinary team to treat conditions of the heart, lungs, chest and the entire vascular system with the help of the latest innovations and advanced techniques in the arena of cardiolovascular medicine to diagnose, monitor and manage all types of heart conditions.

Take for example - Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive procedure to replace an aortic valve that has narrowed to the point when it fails to open correctly (a condition called severe aortic valve stenosis) preventing blood from flowing into the aorta and onward to the rest of the body. “This new technology at AHD 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,” says Dr Heyman Luckraz, Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at AHD.

“This new technology at AHD 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."

- Dr Heyman Luckraz, Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Another technology used at AHD includes MitraClip. Professor Dr Firas Alani, Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiologist and Chief of the Heart and Vascular Center at AHD, mentions that this innovative medical device utilises the edge-to-edge surgical method of valve repair. “The device consists of a large clip that grasps both the anterior and posterior leaflets of the mitral valve. 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.”

"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.”

- Professor Dr Firas Alani, Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiologist and Chief of the Heart and Vascular Center at AHD

An Australian company, along with a team that included clinical research experts from the Mayo Clinic, has developed the world’s first artificially intelligent (AI) stethoscope system called the Stethee. Senior Cardiologist at AHD, Dr Khaldoon Taha, who has adapted this technology to use with his patients, says: “The Stethee technology now available at AHD can analyse heart and lung sounds to build a unique personal biometric signature. The advanced medical device features a revolutionary design that takes less than 20 seconds to deliver clinically validated and accurately verified comparable and shareable biometrics and clinical data for a higher quality of patient care. Data is represented in real time in the Stethee app and can be easily shared with relevant peers or specialists anywhere in the world.”

“The Stethee technology now available at AHD can analyse heart and lung sounds to build a unique personal biometric signature."

- Dr Khaldoon Taha, Senior Cardiologist

AHD has also introduced the novel Watchman device to fight cardiovascular disease. The device 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. “The LAA closure programme was successfully launched at AHD through the coordinated efforts of specialty teams,” says Dr Mustapha Shaaraoui, Consultant Cardiologist at AHD. “Traditionally, patients with atrial fibrillation are prescribed long-term blood-thinning drugs, which carry a substantial risk for internal bleeding that can be life-threatening. These blood thinners can be stopped altogether just a few months after the LAA closure device is fitted. The procedure is minimally invasive and usually takes about an hour with patients ready to leave the hospital within just 24 hours.”

“The LAA closure programme was successfully launched at AHD through the coordinated efforts of specialty teams.”

- Dr Mustapha Shaaraoui, Consultant Cardiologist

The Comprehensive Cardiac Rehabilitation programme at the AHD provides substantial benefits towards improving the well-being of a person living with Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) or CVD. “The current data shows a 20-30 per cent reduction in mortality on patients who enroll in the cardiac rehabilitation programme,” says Dr Mahesh Cirasanambati, Consultant Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at AHD. “The rehabilitation programme is well-structured and individualised to meet the optimal needs of specific cardiac patients who require medical, physical, behavioural, psychosocial and educational support under direct medical supervision and expertise. Our programme is supported by a multidisciplinary team that is qualified and well trained to provide a specialised service following an efficient patient care process and evidence-based clinical practice.”

“The rehabilitation programme is well-structured and individualised to meet the optimal needs of specific cardiac patients who require medical, physical, behavioural, psychosocial and educational support under direct medical supervision and expertise."

- Dr Mahesh Cirasanambati, Consultant Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

The implementation and maintenance of AHD’s clinical standards are based on the guidelines and recommendations of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), American Heart Association (AHA), Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the Joint Commission International (JCI). Patients who are eligible for the cardiac rehabilitation programme at AHD include those who may have experienced a heart attack event, coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), TAVi or Mitraclip procedures, chronic stable angina, or other cardiovascular diseases compromising patients overall functional status and ability to perform their daily activities. Services of cardiac rehabilitation include clinical evaluation, lipid management, nutritional care, smoking cessation counselling and plans, behavioural intervention, psychosocial assessment and counselling to manage overall stress, oxygen therapy, weight management and CPAP – BiPAP therapy, among others.