The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that six in 10 adults in the U.S. have a chronic health condition, and four in 10 have two or more. Furthermore, common chronic health conditions are leading causes of death and disability and represent the lion’s share of health care costs in the country. The CDC estimates that 90 percent of the U.S.’ $3.3 trillion in annual healthcare expenditures stem from treatment of chronic health conditions.
There are numerous chronic health conditions that can require long-term care. Some examples of chronic health conditions follow — along with some of the Medtech systems that provide treatment options, help manage conditions, and improve the quality of life for patients.
High Blood Pressure
About 75 million, or 29 percent, of American adults have high blood pressure. This widespread chronic health condition can lead to stroke, dementia, aneurysm, coronary heart disease, heart failure, kidney failure, and vision impairment. The American Heart Association recommends home blood pressure monitoring so that patients can monitor whether their treatments are working or to confirm a hypertensive crisis.
In the past, people diagnosed with high blood pressure may have struggled to get accurate readings with home blood pressure monitors. Medtech companies are making it easier for people to monitor their blood pressure with user-friendly cuff designs and wireless technology that sends data to a smartphone or tablet. Patients also can easily share blood pressure data with their physicians.
The CDC estimates that up to 6.1 million people in the U.S. have AFib, a heart arrhythmia that can increase the risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart failure. For some people, AFib also means living with weakness, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
Several Medtech solutions are engineered to correct or manage AFib. Electrical cardioversion delivers a shock to the patient’s heart to restore normal rhythm. Catheter ablation uses either heat or freezing to destroy heart tissue where errant electrical impulses that cause AFib originate. Also, 3D mapping allows the cardiologist to perform ablations more quickly and accurately. Pacemakers are sometimes implanted to keep a patient’s heart beating with a regular rhythm.
Someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds. A stroke can cause brain damage that can impair movement, language, vision, eating and swallowing, bowel and bladder control, and cognitive function.
The groundbreaking Mechanical Embolus Removal in Cerebral Ischemia (MERCI) retrieval system, which received FDA approval in 2004, enabled physicians to remove clots in the brain, giving them an effective and immediate intervention option. Medtech pioneers continue to research new interventions and treatments such as the use of cone beam imaging, which could expedite care. For patients recovering from stroke, Vivistim nerve stimulation could help them regain motor skills faster.
The American Diabetes Association reports that diabetes diagnoses in the U.S. have increased by 382 percent from 1988 to 2014, and it kills more than 69,000 Americans each year.
Because there is no cure, people with chronic health condition need to closely monitor their blood glucose levels to stay healthy. Medtech advancements include continuous glucose monitors that give the patient the data they need at any time to make food, activity, and medication choices — and eliminate having to perform finger prick blood tests. Continuous glucose monitors can sync with a smartphone and send alerts to the patient when they need to take action. Innovators have also developed connected insulin pens that can be integrated with a digital diabetes management solution.
Diabetes is closely linked to obesity; 85.2 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Advancements in bariatric surgery techniques may help reduce the increasing rate of obesity and diabetes. Bariatric aspiration therapy, for example, aspirates food from the stomach before it’s digested, preventing up to 30 percent of food from being digested. Other devices delay gastric emptying so the patient feels full longer so they won’t eat as much or as often, resulting in weight loss.
Many of the 1.3 million patients in the U.S. with arthritis deal with chronic pain. Although there is no universal treatment for chronic pain, studies with vagus nerve stimulators are showing promise. Devices delivered small amounts of electrical current to the vagus nerve, resulting in decreased tumor necrosis factor (TNF), thereby decreasing inflammation. Another recent advance is treating pain with hyaluronic acid injections.
An estimated 6 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. Although there is no cure, technological breakthroughs are giving hope to patients and their families.
Human memory prosthesis, electrical brain stimulation, and non-invasive brain stimulation are successfully restoring memory function in some patients. Vibrational spectroscopy, which uses diamonds and PET scans, can find Alzheimer’s biomarkers sooner, and retinal imaging can also aid in the early detection of Alzheimer’s.
Ample Data for Market Sizing
Unfortunately, each common chronic health condition represents millions of people who could benefit from the systems you provide. Physicians and patients continually search for treatments, therapies, or tools for managing chronic health conditions and improve quality of life. You may also hold the answers for over-burdened payers covering the high costs of treating chronic conditions annually. The idea on your drawing board could be the answer.
About the Author
Carevoyance contributor Bernadette Wilson of B Wilson Marketing Communications is an experienced journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer, specializing in content for technology companies.