Technology May Provide the Answer to Reducing Risk of Heart Attack
As the NHS website bleakly testifies, coronary heart disease still remains the biggest killer in the UK. It is the cause of around 73,000 deaths in the UK per year, and on average, 1 in 6 men and 1 in 10 women will die from it.
Unfortunately, these statistics are very symptomatic of our modern lifestyles. Smoking, bad diets and lack of exercise are all factors identified with higher risk of heart attack; and heart disease is currently costing the NHS around £3.2 billion a year.
Discovering a Cure for the Problem: Magnets?
Of course, one of the most effective methods of reducing risk of heart disease is to stop smoking, improve diet and increase exercise. However, for those already suffering with angina, or at higher risk of heart attack, a more immediate solution is desirable.
In 2011, scientists at Temple University in Michigan revealed that magnets could provide the answer. In their extensive research, which was published in Physical Review, they discovered that a device emitting a magnetic field, similar to those used to thin fuel, could have the same impact on human blood.
Leading scientist on the research, Professor Rongjia Tao, was also responsible for creating the technology to reduce viscosity of oil in engines, back in 2008. Shortly after, he realised that the magnetic device could be used on humans, and began his research.
The magnetic field causes red blood cells to connect in short chains, which streamlines the flow of blood around the body. This in turn reduces friction against the blood vessel walls, and these factors combined theoretically help to lessen the chances of heart attack. However, more research was required before the technology could be used in medical establishments.
Using Technology to Monitor Heart Conditions
A team at UC San Francisco developed an online cardiovascular study, which uses mobile technology to monitor the heart-health of participants. Patients are monitored using their smart phones, and then the data is sent immediately to doctors, who can provide instant feedback.
The extensive Health eHeart study is designed to not only monitor participants, but to provide invaluable insight into heart function. Jeffrey Olgin, chief of the UC San Francisco Division of Cardiology, says: ‘We hope to be able to collect copious amounts of data on a large segment of the population so we can develop very robust and accurate models to predict the occurrence of heart disease in people who don’t yet have heart disease, or slow the progression in people who already have heart disease.’
Helen Dohse, one of the participants, who suffers from irregular heartbeat, claims that the study has allowed her to ‘have an amazing life versus having an ok life being a victim on the couch.’ The mobile technology means that she can monitor her heart whilst on a 206 mile bike race through three US states, ensuring that she stays within the safe range and doesn’t risk her health.
Finding a Cure?
Whilst it’s not recommended to hold out for a technological cure just yet, and it’s still highly recommended to eat healthily, exercise and stop smoking; exciting technological developments are happening all over the world in cardiology, and it’s impossible to predict what lies ahead in the world of medicine.