Focusing on new trends and interesting technologies, let’s look forward to the new age technologies of 2020 that are capable of changing the future of Cardiology. In the near future, these will likely have a greater role to play in clinical practice.
Artificial Intelligence in Cardiology
By far, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and its newest iteration in the form of machine learning (ML), is the overriding hot topic being discussed over the past couple of years. What once was science fiction or far-fetched research projects is now beginning to win gradually. Some AI elements are already being used without the knowledge of clinicians, being integrated into the cardiology and radiology IT backend, and reporting systems to help speed up work.
AI allows the cardiologists to improve the diagnostic imaging. Examples of commonly accessible AI today provide automatic fractional ejection (EF) measurements for ultrasonic point-of – care applications (POCUS), as in the GE Healthcare Vscan. Premium cardiac ultrasound systems such as the Philips Epiq use AI to automatically identify the anatomy, segment it, label it, identify the optimal echo views and perform automatic measurements before the physician starts reading the case. Several vendors now offer AI-automated calcium scoring software for cardiac CT scans, creating report quantification information in seconds, and color coding on dataset slices of calcium by vessel segment. Arterys AI-based analysis program for cardiac MRI automates the quantification needed to speed up post processing of the test. AI algorithms are used to identify arrhythmias instantly, and to submit warnings to patients using wearables or smartphone-based devices that monitor ECG.
Wearable Technologies That Aid Patient Monitoring
About everyone already owns a mobile, and millions of people are using fitness apps to monitor their wellbeing using Apple Watch or Fitbit. Therefore, it should not be shocking that both patients and healthcare providers are using these tools and mobile applications to help track patient safety. Health monitoring details for certain patients is already accessible 24-7 for the entire year, instead of a regular appointment. The wearable and app algorithms incorporate smart software and AI to detect abnormally high heart rates, arrhythmias, and other factors to alert patients to contact their physicians. A consumer-grade early alert network would undoubtedly play a significant role over the coming years to triage patients efficiently to let them realize where they will receive qualified healthcare assistance.
Google Glass, the best-known example of wearable computing technologies, consists of a headset which sits like a pair of eyeglasses on your face. Even the advanced mini-computer will take images, film photos, and transfer data wirelessly. During medical procedures, doctors can wear the hands-free device to record and transmit images without having to handle cameras and contaminate the sterile surgical environment. One potential use for Google Glass is during coronary angiography, where a physician injects a special dye into the arteries of the heart to reveal potential narrowings or blockages. In one small study, angiographic images transmitted to computers or iPads through Google Glass were sufficiently sharp to be interpreted accurately by experts who were not present during the procedure. This device will allow patients with heart attacks to profit from the cardiologists’ experience across the globe in the future.
Doctors usually insert a tiny mesh tube called a stent during an artery-opening angioplasty that pumps medications into the heart to hold it intact. But with the passage of time, clots will develop within stents. Preventing that will require long-term therapy of medications. A new type of stent that dissolves gradually within a year or so may help to sidestep that problem. Called bioresorbable stents, they also allow the vessels being handled to recover their capacity to constrict and extend. For one clinical study, the everolimus-eluting bioresorbable stent was as successful as the drug-eluting stent that was more widely used. However, bioresorbable stents currently available are less versatile and thus more difficult to insert within arteries than metal stents, which preclude their usage in more severe coronary artery disease. But some experts hope that more technological advancements can allow potential replacement of metal stents with bioresorbable stents.
Traditional pacemakers consist of a tiny power supply powered by batteries that were inserted under the skin. Wires known as leads supply the heart muscle with electric signals that help sustain a steady heartbeat. While the pacemakers are usually very effective, the leads reflect the system’s weak connection. They most often involve a broken lead (which may cause a malfunction) or an infection at the insertion site when complications do arise. Additionally, some people have anatomical differences which make the implantation of lead difficult. The leadless pacemaker is a small, self-contained device which is inserted through a short, flexible tube called a catheter on the inner wall of the heart. The first prototype of a single-chamber pacemaker mounted in the lower pumping chamber at the right of the heart seems optimistic. There might be potential revisions over the next few years.