Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) Are the Leading Cause of Death Globally
Cardiovascular Disease cases are on the rise, in both incidence and prevalence. Mortality rate is steadily rising, underlying cause of 1/3rd of all deaths globally in 2019, as per Dec. 9 review article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The study highlights an urgent need for countries to establish cost-effective public health programs aimed at reducing cardiovascular risk through modifiable behaviours. China, India, Russia, the U.S. and Indonesia have witnessed highest cardiovascular deaths.
Prevalent cases of total cardiovascular disease are likely to increase substantially as a result of population growth and aging, especially in Northern Africa and Western Asia, Central and Southern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern and South-eastern Asia where the share of older persons is projected to double between 2019 and 2050. Experts predict the global burden of cardiovascular disease will grow exponentially over the next few years as the long-term effects of the current COVID-19 pandemic evolve.
CVD: America’s Costliest Disease
CVD is also now the costliest chronic medical disease in the U.S., with heart failure and stroke are the most expensive chronic conditions in the Medicare fee-for-service program as of 2014. In 2016, costs related to CVD were US$555 Bn, and by 2035, costs are expected to exceed US$1.1 Tn - far surpassing medical cost estimates for other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Medical costs, in the form of hospitalizations, are expected to increase 135% to US$749 Bn, while indirect costs, such as in lost productivity, are projected to increase 55% to US$368 Bn. The biggest cost driver is the aging population, as CVD costs shift with the aging of the baby boomers. By 2035, CVD costs will more than triple in the 80 and older age group and more than double in the 65-to-79-year segment. CVD will maintain its place as America’s costliest disease. In fact, based on prevalence, death rates, disability and costs, CVD will continue to be the most burdensome disease Americans face henceforth.
No Silver Bullet for CVD: Both Prevention & Treatment Are Key
Effective methods to keep heart failure patients out of the hospital are essential, both in the interests of the patient's health, as well as to reduce the burden on the health care system. Patients with heart failure (HF) are in need of solid control over their health, especially during the post hospitalization. If they fail to monitor symptoms, comply with the treatment plan and exercise properly, HF patients risk getting readmitted. Particularly, more than 25% of discharged HF patients will be readmitted within the first 30 days.
Even if patients survive, they have poor functional capacity, poor exercise tolerance and low quality of life after hospitalizations. Chronic heart failure care is often complex, with multiple prescription drugs and lifestyle changes and interventions. HF places a burden on daily routines. Patients, particularly those in the more severe stages of HF, need to frequently monitor physiological parameters and may find the pressure to adhere to prescribed medication, diet, physical activity and follow-up plans stressful.
Self-management can get complicated for patients. From tracking medications, appointments, symptoms, vital signs, and fluid intake to exercising regularly and eating healthy, patients can feel overwhelmed.
Helping Patient’s Better Self-manage Their Condition: Living Well Despite Heart Failure
Good news is there are plenty of mobile apps that can help patients stay on track. However, clinical outcomes in HF are influenced by patients’ knowledge, self-management skills and readiness to seek early care for symptoms.
To offer patients a caring hand outside the facility and reduce the readmission rate, some providers invest into HF-tailored medical app development to support self-management needs of patients with heart failure.
Treatment of chronic diseases, such as heart failure, requires complex protocols based on early diagnosis; self-monitoring of symptoms, vital signs and physical activity; regular medication intake; and education of patients and caregivers about relevant aspects of the disease. Smartphones and mobile health applications could be very helpful in improving the efficacy of such protocols.
Apps can enable the patient to self-monitor symptoms and vital signs in order to actively participate in the control and management of the disease. Patients can record physical activity and daily moods, and benefit from notification systems that help them keep track of medication consumption and follow the prescribed treatment plan. Cameras in mobile phones may also be used to record medical documents (ECGs). Connecting patients with healthcare professionals for comprehensive care and helping manage their symptoms before it becomes an emergency situation.
Heart failure patients should be in a position to provide records of their weight, blood pressure, fluid intake, medications and other important parameters and communicate this data to care providers using wireless technology. This data should be made available to medical personnel regularly and on a periodic basis. In this manner the health care providers can detect and respond to warning signs or alerts before the patient's condition worsens to warrant a visit to the doctor or a hospital admission with features of heart failure decompensation.
Wearable Technologies Aid Patient Monitoring
Smart software and AI are being incorporated into the wearable and app algorithms to detect abnormally high heart rates, arrhythmias, and other factors to alert patients to contact their doctors. This consumer-grade early warning network will likely play a big role in the coming years to automatically triage patients and help know when they should seek professional healthcare help.
Effectively Managing Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Patients
Companies are responding to healthcare demands by developing integrated, software-based applications to optimise traditional medical devices. Medical device manufacturers, for example, are developing wireless-enabled medical devices and mobile apps that allow healthcare providers to access and evaluate patient vital signs and other information through remote monitoring or cloud-based data-sharing systems.
These apps lie within 4 categories - basic functionality, synchronization with devices / other apps, sharing capabilities and communication with the provider.
However, in-home monitoring has limited success, with patient adherence a major barrier.
Major Heart Failure Software Companies
Cardiawave - Pulsed Cavitational Ultrasound Therapy (PCUT), CardioDx, Cardiologs, Cardiomo Care, CardioSmart Heart Explorer, CVRx, EkoBardy Diagnostics - Carnation Ambulatory Monitor, ElectroMap, H2O Overload, Heartbeat, HeartMapp, HF Path™, Heart Failure Storylines, Heart Health Intelligence, KardiaSoft Architecture, Magicardio, Medly App, My Cardiac Coach, my mhealth, OtiTopic, Pam+, PatientConnect, Sensible Medical, Sentinel, Sky Labs, TreatHF, Vector, Verily, VoxelCloud.