Finally it's here - an accurate easy way to visualize the right ventricle.

“I’ve looked at life from both sides now…”*

I was amazed to find out that 26% of heart patients return to hospital within a month of being discharged.   This means that current therapies work well on 74% of people, but the other 26% need more aggressive monitoring and therapy.  The way the current healthcare system identifies these patients is to re-admit them to hospital and assess them more aggressively.  The cost of the average hospital stay in the USA, according to the University of Washington, has doubled in the last decade to $33,079 in 2010.  That is an expensive way to diagnose patients who need extra care.
I recently spoke to the Chief Cardiologist at one large American hospital to confirm this information and he told me they discharge 1,200 cardiac patients a month and see 300 of them come back the next month. I pointed out that just eliminating three returns (1%) would pay for the Angelo™ system in the first month.  He said, “let’s prove right heart analysis will reduce re-admissions”.  We have started the process to do the clinical study.

But how does this work?  For decades, some visionary cardiologists have been advocating the application of a functional right heart analysis, in the setting of left heart disease as THE way to properly assess the patient – to see just how damaged the left heart is by looking at the related issues in the right heart.  This idea is starting to take hold, as now there are entire conferences dedicated to the right heart.

In June we will be exhibiting at one of these conferences in Austria , entitled, "Everything about the Right Heart". Ventripoint will present two live cases in the workshop to show cardiologists how easy it is to get the correct information using the Angelo™ system.

With the help of Ventripoint’s Angelo™ system it is possible to see the whole picture to attain whole-hearted health.  So we can look at both the right and the left sides now!

*Thanks to Joni Mitchell: Both Sides Now (1969), Cardiologists will soon be singing -“I’ve looked at life from both sides now.” 

Life is a Breath Away!

Once on a ski trip, I developed a bad cold that went into my chest.  I took some decongestant drugs and went skiing anyway.  On the lower slopes, I had no problems, so I decided to take the lift to the top of the mountain where the snow was deeper and fresher.  About halfway up I started having trouble breathing as my lungs were congested and the air was thinner.  The higher I went the less I could breathe and there was no way to stop going up!  It seemed an eternity until I reached the top and could ski down to lower altitudes and breathe normally again.  It was not a pleasant experience struggling to breathe.
I think about all the millions of people with Pulmonary Hypertension (high-blood pressure on the right side of the heart).  They have trouble breathing, all day, every day, as their lungs are congested with fluid due to the elevated pressure.  There are now three types of drugs that can lower the pressure and help these people to breathe easier, but doctors do not know which one will work best on an individual.  They simply try each kind in series to see the effect.  This process takes months as the only way to measure the pressure on the right side is an invasive risky catheterization.   You can look at the right heart using MRI but these patients cannot lie down for any period of time and holding their breath while the scanning is happening is also very difficult.
Angelo™ overcomes these limitations and allows patients to be followed weekly to determine which medications are best.  The patient will get relief and breathe more easily faster.  We have approval for this application in Europe and Canada and have just submitted for approval in the United States.

January we had the highest usage of Angelo™ ever.  A breath of fresh air for all those people, who have overworked hearts.  With the right drugs, they can take a breather and enjoy the day.

Seeing is Believing?

I am traveling through the French countryside on the TGV (fast) train traveling to Paris.  Trains are a great way to see the world, but I wish there was someone to tell me about what I’m seeing out the window.  It reminds me of a recent comment made by a cardiologist.  He had just tested his first six children with our Angelo (VMS)™ heart analysis system and he was amazed how easy it was to explain to the children and their parents how the heart was doing.  His comment was “I have long since stopped showing anyone MRI scans, but Angelo’s 3D pictures can be adjusted to show just the part of the heart that’s most important in each case.   This ability to pin-point the exact area in the heart of particular relevance to the patient is perfect for communicating the medical problem.  All six families asked for a picture to take home.”  He was easily able to give them one.

I know whenever anyone in my family goes to the doctor, I get a call asking me to explain to the family member what the doctor was saying.  Sometimes I wish I had a picture, at least to start.   I have had sonographers tell me they do a quick reconstruction to show the patient their heart and it is much appreciated.  Of course they do a full analysis before they send it to the doctor for review.

Someone once said, “seeing is believing”.   In this case I would say seeing is understanding - there is something reassuring about having a concrete image of a problem that usually can’t be seen - only imagined.  And it does my heart good to know at least those six children have a very different picture of their heart on the fridge door.

No Need to Needle

As every parent knows children have the uncanny ability to needle you in ingenious ways.   But why do we needle children to look at their hearts?  What do I mean by that?

Speaking to a cardiologist recently I explained how Angelo (VMS™), our heart analysis system, is so easy to use for children. He remarked that with MRI you have to inject contrast media into every patient in order to get an MRI image and that children really find the needle disturbing.
I have had lots of needles put into me from the many blood donations I’ve given, literally 100s over the years but I still hate the insertion and if the nurse is not really precise, the resultant bruise around the needle site takes weeks to go away.  So why do we needle children, or for that matter, anyone?
The conversation with the cardiologist brought me to a new realization - I suddenly saw another great advantage for ultrasound versus the MRI procedure.  My previous list of advantages included: the 5 minutes of scanning of a non-sedated child versus 1 hour on an MRI with sedation or even general anesthetic, and results in 15 minutes on the first visit versus weeks of waiting for an MRI - all good reasons to switch to the Angelo (VMS™) procedure.
Apparently, what these brave children with right heart problems comment on is not the long wait to get an appointment to have the MRI test done, not the claustrophobic MRI environment and all the noise that goes with it, not the breath holding, nor having to come back a second time to get the MRI results .  What they really don’t like is that needle.  Well, I am happy to say there is no need to needle with Angelo (VMS™).  Angelo is needle free.

"A Double Baker's Dozen"

VentriPoint now has 26 cardiac centers using Angelo. It is wonderful to be able to talk to our users and hear their opinions on the present and future applications for Angelo.

Universally, the users find Angelo easy to use and very helpful for their patients with congenital heart disease and now pulmonary hypertension. Some users have made Angelo mandatory within their hospital and others are still building their confidence in its information and ease of use, before they recommend it to their colleagues.

One story related to me was about a child, who had come a thousand miles for a check- up of his surgically-repaired heart just, after Angelo had been installed at the hospital. The doctor was about to ask the child and parents to come back for a MRI exam when he remembered about Angelo.  He immediately had the procedure done. The analysis came back showing the heart was fine. The child and his parents went home and did not have to comeback such a long way. The cardiologist was overjoyed with the accuracy and speed of the result and even happier for the child who did not have to undergo a MRI procedure.

It is encouraging to see hospitals considering Angelo as the standard of care, but we realize this is a big decision, which requires the buy-in of all parts of the cardiac unit. Change takes energy and time. However, the status quo is just too costly and inconvenient to continue and so Angelo will eventually be the standard of care.

George Adams - VentriPoint CEO orange dot

George Adams
Ventripoint Diagnostics Ltd.  


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