Hardly a day goes by where an advancement isn’t made in at least one part of the broad spectrum of medical science, and these advances, over time, contribute to the constantly heightening capacity of the field to benefit people.
Perhaps this is what attracts individuals to careers in medicine. Whether they work as a certified medical assistant, a doctor, a pharmaceutical engineer or a nurses aide, they know that not only will they be helping people directly, but that no two days will be the same.
While, according to some experts from the medical technology community, 2015 is expected to follow this trend of innovation and advancement by pushing through some major milestones during its 365 day span. If you’re a current student looking to keep an eye on the medical field or simply trying to stay abreast of scientific news, take a look at these examples of what medical technology will accomplish this year:
Mobile stroke units
Patients with heart conditions or high blood pressure should be relieved to hear that mobile stroke units were seated firmly atop the Cleveland Clinic’s list of the Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2015.1 While many people have heard that every second matters in the event of a stroke, very few actually know how serious that statement is. When having a stroke, the brain is deprived of a reliable flow of oxygen, meaning that your brain is literally asphyxiating more and more with each passing second. Much of the damage that is done to your brain during this time period can never be reversed, which is why time is so important in this process.
Mobile stroke units seek to reduce the possible time spent between cardiac event and treatment by providing more resources than a ambulance could to stroke victims. The prime difference between a normal ambulance and a mobile stroke unit is that the latter is stocked with clot thinning agents and a CAT scan machine, as well as a critical care nurse and a paramedic. Look for these to start becoming more commonly used later this year.
New medicines for rare lung condition
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, is a rare condition that occurs in the lungs. When it does, it can often be fatal within a matter of only several years from the point of diagnosis. Essentially the condition destroys the lungs through a series of factors that lead to heavy scarring within the internal sacs of these organs. Over time, this scarring can make it impossible for a human to breathe or effectively deliver oxygen-rich blood to their body parts. Until recently, IPF was largely thought to be incurable, but that perception may be about to change.
According to PulmCCM, the Food and Drug Administration gave approval in late 2014 to two new drugs aimed at treating the condition.2 The two drugs, known as Pirfenidone and Nintedanib will be sold by the simpler and more marketable names of Esbriet and Ofev, respectively.
While this is certainly indicative of progress, especially for those more than 100,000 people in the U.S. suffering from the condition, further advancements will need to be made to drive the price point down to something more reasonable. As of now, it is expected that the medicines would cost nearly six figures for one individual’s year long supply.
Size does matter with pacemakers
Pacemakers seem to be one of the most commonly discussed pieces of medical technology available on the market today. This is undoubtedly due, at least partially, to the fact that they have been prominent in the medical community for more than five decades. According to the National Institute of Health, pacemakers work by measuring the activity of your heart and correcting abnormalities through emitting electrical impulses.3
For decades, this has remained relatively unchanged. According to Forbes, though, there has been a relatively constant risk of infection for a small group of people who receive pacemakers with defective wiring.4 In 2015, we are expected to see a fair amount of change in the style of pacemakers. Predominantly, this will take the form of them becoming far smaller so that they can be inserted directly into a person’s heart instead of having the wires inserted into a vein.
1) ‘Top 10 Innovations for 2015,’ The Cleveland Clinic, 10/29/2014, http://summit.clevelandclinic.org/Top-10-Innovations/Top-10-for-2015-(5757).aspx
2) ‘FDA Approves Pirfenidone (Esbriet) and Nintedanib (Ofev) for IPF, PulmCCM, 10/17/2014 http://pulmccm.org/main/2014/interstitial-lung-disease-review/fda-approves-pirfenidone-esbriet-nintedanib-ofev-ipf/
3) ‘How Does a Pacemaker Work?’ The National Institute of Health, 2/28/2012, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pace/howdoes
4) Szczerba, Robert J., ‘Cleveland Clinic Announces Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2015,’ 10/29/14, http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertszczerba/2014/10/29/cleveland-clinic-announces-top-10-medical-innovations-for-2015/