Tuesday 6 December 2022

Addressing complications of non-communicable diseases in Mideast

, September 12, 2022

By Bernard Ross
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease (CVD), pose some of the biggest challenges to modern healthcare delivery. 
In most cases, NCDs are a consequence of a patient’s lifestyle -- the four leading causes are tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets.
Those aged 60 or older are typically most at risk of developing NCDs but risk factors vary depending on the condition. For instance, almost 25 percent of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) population suffers from high blood pressure while cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes represent up to one third of the disease burden in the region.
Ageing populations mean greater healthcare demands
As the population continues to age, the number of people living with NCDs is expected to rise further. This will increase the number of patients needing ongoing care from healthcare systems, demanding more time and resources from an industry that is recovering from the disruption caused by Covid-19.
If left untreated or if a patient’s lifestyle does not improve, NCDs can lead to major, often life-threatening, health complications including strokes, heart attacks and blood clots (thrombosis). These conditions increase mortality rates, raise healthcare costs and put further strain on healthcare systems. 
A silent killer
Health complications from NCDs increase the risk of hospitalisation. Extended stays in hospital beds typically involve prolonged periods of immobility, causing blood flow around the body to slow down, making thrombosis more likely. This can worsen quickly and without symptoms, leading to a life-threatening pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung). 
Thrombosis is a leading cause of hospital death and disability around the world. According to a multinational study, the most common risk factors are chronic pulmonary disease, chronic heart failure and obesity. However, patients recovering in hospital, whether from acute stroke or orthopaedic surgery, are also at risk. Even following hospital discharge risk remains high.
Preventing the preventable
Despite being one of the leading causes of death in the developed world, thrombosis is preventable. 
In instances when drugs cannot be prescribed, standard of care for thrombosis prevention is intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) – an air-filled sleeve that cuffs around the legs and ‘squeezes’ to promote blood flow. IPC, however, is not suitable for all patients due to fragile skin or complex limb injury. Exercise is also recommended by healthcare professionals, though for some patients – especially the elderly – this is not always feasible.
Adherence to thrombosis treatment in the Middle East is reported to be lower than averages across America, Europe, North Africa, and Oceania.
In Middle Eastern regions there is a significant gap between theory and practice in thrombosis treatment. In fact, compliance to thrombosis treatment guidelines in theory and practice was found in only 38 percent of patients, leaving a large proportion of patients at risk of developing blood clots in hospital across the Middle East.
Medical technology (MedTech) innovation is helping to address this significant compliance and unmet need risk. MedTech provides an alternative mechanical intervention to prevent blood clots, while addressing NCDs early on to prevent complications that lead to hospitalisation. These preventative  innovations will not only save lives, but save healthcare systems money, time, and resources. 
Trialling technology
Tackling NCDs with MedTech is a two-pronged approach. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) lets healthcare professionals remotely observe patient vital signs associated with NCDs, such as glucose levels, blood pressure, and weight. This means any signs of concern can be identified sooner to reduce the likelihood of life-threatening complications. RPM also helps alleviate pressure on hospitals and healthcare professionals by reducing the number of patients attending face-to-face check-ups – particularly ‘false alarm’ cases where no medical attention is required. 
MedTech devices can directly tackle issues related to unmet need. The geko device, for instance, addresses the 30 percent of acute stroke patients who are unable to tolerate IPC [CLOTS3] – and who would otherwise receive no thrombosis prevention.   
Such devices have the potential to improve adherence rates to thrombosis prevention by offering simpler, less invasive, and more cost-effective solutions to care. But technology alone cannot solve all the medical problems of an entire population. 
Improving the future of healthcare
Beyond the scope of innovation, patients have a responsibility to take charge of their own health by making changes to their lifestyle and seeking advice from healthcare professionals on how to improve their conditions – this is especially important for those living with NCDs.
Effective healthcare delivery relies on governments, healthcare systems and patients all collaborating to improve the wellbeing of a population, control rising healthcare costs and reduce mounting pressures caused by a growing ageing population. Embracing innovation and adopting MedTech solutions into healthcare systems sooner will play a major role in improving how healthcare systems operate and deliver care to their patients, in the Middle East and beyond. – TradeArabia News Service
* Bernard Ross is CEO and founder of Sky Medical Technology (Sky). Sky aims to create world-leading medical devices that saves lives while saving healthcare systems money. 


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