Breakthrough Treatments in Heart Diseases That are Changing Lives

This article is written in collaboration with Naluri

Based on the latest WHO data published in 2017, Coronary Heart Disease Deaths in Malaysia has reached 30,598 or 22.13% of total deaths. The age adjusted Death Rate is 137.02 per 100,000 of the population which ranks Malaysia as number 63 in the world.

Despite its alarming death rate and health implication, there have been some significant developments in heart disease treatment that are now advancing rapidly. Some of these significant medical breakthroughs include:

New class of drugs designed to treat heart failure

Entresto (sacubitril/valsartan) can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from heart failure by 20%. Entresto combines valsartan with sacubitiril to inhibit a substance in the body that causes the tightening of blood vessels. This blocks a heart-damaging enzyme.

A new diabetes drug EMPA-REG (empagliflozin)

This drug appears to be effective in reducing deaths from cardiac disease as well as maintaining healthy blood sugars. It can reduce heart attack and stroke in patients with diabetes. The drug also lowers blood pressure and body weight


Tiny pacemakers can be inserted through a catheter directly into the heart. The benefit of this technique is also that it does not create a bulge under the skin of the chest. An example of a mini-pacemaker: Nanostim

Some disadvantage is reported as well. Its use was paused for some time until some of the mini-pacemakers became dislodged and caused some perforations of heart tissue. It has also been said that they’re not suitable for patients whose hearts have more than one chamber that needs pacing.

Perhaps more research is needed to check its feasibility and approval but it is still gaining positive feedback for its effectiveness in some cases.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)

This new technology is useful for patients for whom the surgery would be too risky. This collapsible valve can be implanted through the femoral artery in the groin or a small incision in the chest which can be expanded after it is in the heart. It is useful for individuals for whom conventional valve-replacement surgery is not suitable.

A tiny cardiovascular remote monitoring device

A tiny device can be implanted in the pulmonary artery. This carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs. It is inserted through a small incision in the femoral vein and then it is threaded to the pulmonary artery. This then measures pressure from fluid buildup before any symptoms happen.

The information is then identified and detected and transmitted by an antenna within a special pillow that the patient can rest on. The device was medically approved by the FDA in 2014.

A group of individuals at Huntington are working on an even more less-invasive form of remote monitoring through a smartphone app that uses the built-in flashlight to measure the quantity of blood being pumped by the heart.

New drugs for lowering  high levels of LDL cholesterol

Two new drugs for lowering high levels of LDL cholesterol received FDA approval in 2015: Alirocumab (Praluent) and Evolocumab (Repatha). These drugs function by enabling the liver to pull more LDL cholesterol from the body so that it can be eliminated. The drugs are given via an injection every few weeks and are meant to be used in addition to and not in lieu of other treatments.

Regeneration of damaged heart cells

It is thought that damaged hearts can heal more rapidly and completely after a heart attack. By controlling the protein neuregulin — a protein necessary for normal heart progress in mice, researchers were able to stimulate the regeneration of heart cells. In the research conducted, this method worked in adult and young mice and had made damaged hearts almost as good as new.

However according to Richard Harvey, Ph.D., a professor of heart research at the Victor Chang Research Cardiac Institute, “Current drug therapies and revascularization [re-creating blood flow through bypass or angioplasty] while saving many lives after an acute heart attack do not prevent progression to heart failure,”.

Scientists are still discovering if this will work for human heart tissue.

Restructuring of heart tissues

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have created a collagen structure to avert tissue collapse by tailoring a low-cost commercial 3D printer. They were able to “print” or restructure models of a brain and heart, according to research work that they published in the journal Science Advances.

Various heart-disease treatment breakthroughs are constantly in the making and will potentially pave the way for better prognosis in individuals with cardiovascular diseases.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Naluri – Pioneering next generation digital therapeutics combining behavioural science, data science and digital design to build the mental resilience needed to achieve your goals and overcome life’s challenges that stand in your way.

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Pamilia Lourdunathan Clinical Psychology
Pamilia is a clinical psychologist and health coach at Naluri, with more than 2 years of practising experience as a clinical psychologist in the government ...
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Pamilia Lourdunathan Clinical Psychology
Pamilia is a clinical psychologist and health coach at Naluri, with more than 2 years of practising experience as a clinical psychologist in the government and private sectors under the pediatric and adult unit. She obtained her Master's degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from International Islamic University Malaysia and is currently completing her doctoral degree in Psychology at the same institution. She has also received certification on person-centred counselling skills.

Pamilia also has experience as an academician and enjoys conducting research. She is currently in the process of implementing an intervention program aiming to improve the emotional, behavioural and social well-being of adolescents living with HIV at shelter homes. She is passionate about helping the homeless and is experienced as a workshop assistant facilitator in collaboration with Pertubuhan Tindakan Wanita Islam (PERTIWI) and Human Relations Wellness Development (HRW).

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