Innovative ‘disappearing’ device for the treatment of coronary artery disease now available in the Philippines


HEART disease has been the number one cause of death for millions of Filipinos. According to statistics, 300 Filipinos die every day for the past 10 years because of heart disease. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the most common form of heart disease and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 17 million people worldwide die of cardiovascular disease every year.

In a recent press conference, Dr. Erwin Dizon, chairman and executive director of Cardiovascular Institute, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, explains that patients with CAD can experience chest pain and shortness of breath due to the lack of blood flow to the heart resulting from blockages in the arteries caused by the buildup of plaque in the artery. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other deposits that accumulate on the inner wall of the artery. Over time, the plaque hardens and narrows the coronary arteries, limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. Areas of plaque can also rupture, causing a blood clot to form on the surface of the plaque. When blood flow to the heart is reduced or blocked, angina (chest pain) or a heart attack could occur.

Dizon also explains what puts a person at risk of CAD. He reiterates that the chance of developing CAD increases when several risk factors are present. The first one cannot be control like increasing age, gender, and family history of heart disease. Some risk factors can be treated or controlled like smoking because it decreases the amount of oxygen elivered to the heart; high blood pressure because it strains the heart and damages blood vessels making it easier for plaque to form;  high cholesterol in the blood can lead to the build up of fatty plaque that clogs arteries;  obesity or excess body fat can cause increased blood pressure and high cholesterol; lack of physical activity or inactive lifestyle may contribute to CAD;  and diabetes causes sugar to build up in blood vessels.

The dream treatment

Dr. Enrique Posas, endovascular intervention Section Chief of St. Luke’s Medical Center talks about the fourth revolution in the interventional treatment of coronary artery disease: after angioplasty in the 1970s; bare metal stents (BMS) in the 1980s; and drug eluting stents (DES) in 2000s.

Dr. Posas says that from the very early days, interventional cardiologists have dreaming of a transient scaffold that would disappear after the joh have been done. Now available in the Philippines, Dr. Posas explains that this new breakthrough in the treatment of CAD is a dream treatment option.

Abbott, a global healthcare company, ushers in a new revolution for CAD treatment in the Philippines with the introduction of Absorb — the world’s first drug eluting fully bioresorbable vascular scaffold (BVS), a unique “disappearing” device for the treatment of patients with CAD.

Absorb is a small mesh tube designed to open a blocked heart vessel, restore blood flow and then dissolve into the blood vessel over time. Unlike with a permanent metallic stent, treatment with Absorb potentially allows the vessel to resume more natural function and movement that could result in long-term benefits for patients.

It is made of polylactide, a naturally dissolvable material that is commonly used in medical implants such as dissolvable sutures.

The potential long-term benefits of a scaffold that dissolves and restores the vessel to a more natural state are significant: the vessel may expand and contract as needed to increase the flow of blood to the heart in response to normal activities such as exercise; treatment and diagnostic options are broadened; and the need for prolonged treatment with anti-clotting medications may be reduced.

Meanwhile, Dr. Timothy Dy, head of aortic endovascular unit, Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, says BVS may be especially beneficial for certain patient types. He also explains the advantages of this new treatment and when to give this treatment.

“After almost six months of treatment, Absorb dissolves naturally into the blood vessel, leaving behind a treated vessel that may resume more natural function and movement because it is free of a permanent metallic implant. The return of natural vessel function may improve long-term results for patients,” Dr. Dy explains.

According to Dr. Dy, there are 15 to 20 hospitals in the country today with top of the line heart treatment centers. Lea Manto-Beltran, Special Feature Editor


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