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Alex Nepogodiev

Executive Vice President, Elixir Medical

Timely AI-enabled interventions with implantable devices could significantly impact heart patients by potentially preventing cardiac events before they occur.

Medical device innovations are expanding cardiovascular disease treatments, offering diverse options for patients. From lifestyle adjustments to novel treatment and prevention, possibilities are enhancing both longevity and wellbeing.

Cardiovascular devices are increasingly vital, bridging the gap between therapy and prevention, not only post-cardiac events but also in proactive healthcare approaches.

Implantable therapy for cardiovascular disease

Alex Nepogodiev is Executive Vice President of Elixir Medical, a Silicon Valley-based medical technology and therapeutics company bringing high-quality engineering to resolve the challenges of cardiovascular care.

Nepogodiev points to how artificial intelligence (AI) — coupled with evolving scanning modalities, techniques and diagnostic software — is changing how patients may benefit from implantable medical devices as part of comprehensive treatment pathway.

He explains that medical technologies are driving a better understanding of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which remains a leading cause of death; in the US, for example, there are 805,000 annual heart attacks, and 200,000 are recurrent — which points to an opportunity to improve treatment of CAD.

AI-enhanced scans aid prevention

Non-invasive scans, such as CT angiograms interpreted by AI, can look inside the arteries and heart structure. They also examine the cellular and tissue level of diseases. This capability potentially highlights scenarios where a heart attack is prevented with timely implantable therapy.

“These insights are giving us better ways of understanding the disease, what stage of progression cardiovascular disease is at and how it can be most appropriately treated,” explains Nepogodiev.

Physicians can better tailor treatments that
are specific and unique to that patient.

Revascularisation implant restores arterial function

Elixir’s latest advancements in treating vascular disease mainly target cardiovascular and peripheral conditions via revascularisation (restoring blood flow in blocked arteries/veins) procedures.

Among its products is the Coronary Bioadaptor System, an implant designed to reopen blocked arteries and restore arterial function. “Bioadaptor is a smart prosthesis that implants in the artery like a stent but unlocks and enables the artery to pulsate and restore more normal function,” says Nepogodiev. “It helps reduce repeat heart attacks or repeat procedures for patients.”

He underlines the importance of AI in the process, analysing information from scans to reconstruct 3D models of arteries. These technologies help identify blockages, determine their location and severity, and define treatment protocols.

Tailored treatment optimises outcomes

That may mean intervening with lifestyle and dietary changes, pharmaceuticals, bypass surgery or angioplasty and introducing devices sooner that restore vessel function and prevent a heart attack.

Such information enables clinicians to use the technology and implants, like bioadaptor, with precision. “We know exactly the best location in the artery for it to be implanted, so it has the best value for restoring heart function. Based on that information, we can start the process earlier in the disease journey,” suggests Nepogodiev. “Physicians can better tailor treatments that are specific and unique to that patient.”

Bioadaptor also has drug-eluting properties. The company is working on multiple drugs that can be placed in the bioresorbable polymer, including anti-clotting medication to prevent thrombus formation post-procedure. This has the potential to reduce the pharmacology burden on a patient.

Stringent regulations and evolving healthcare approaches

The field of medical devices has grown over the last 30–40 years, and Nepogodiev emphasises that such technologies are still developed with high levels of rigour and research to meet stringent regulatory requirements across the globe. “That is important to note,” he urges. “The regulatory process truly validates the safety and efficacy of these devices.”

Healthcare in the cardiac arena is evolving. More recently, there has been a convergence of cardiology specialists collaborating to treat CVD patients with a ‘Heart Team approach.’ These specialists aim to develop the best clinical strategy while positioning patients as decision-makers and advocates.

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