Maybe call it the Gulliver's Travels effect, because cardiovascular technology is getting tinier. Innovators are working on everything from nanosensors that could detect heart attacks before they happen, to pill-sized leadless pacemakers.
While Lilliputian in scale, these advances are anything but laughable. Cadiovascular disease remains a grave problem, responsible for one in three deaths throughout the world.
Technological advances in cardiology over the past half century have improved and saved the lives of millions. But many treatments such as cardiac stents and cardiac rhythm management devices remain extremely expensive, while leading to modest improvement in health for many patients.
For instance, though stents can prove life-saving for heart attack patients, their efficacy in elective procedures is debatable in many cases. In September, Bloomberg ran an investigative article reporting that half of elective stents were unnecessary and had been tied to at least 773 US deaths in 2012. As a result of these trends, sales of everything from stents to cardiac rhythm management devices have slowed, while pricing pressures are cutting into the margins of the companies that make such products.
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