Dealing With Silent Killers
While many of us are familiar with “stroke”, not many can say the same about Peripheral Artery Disease. What exactly is PAD and why it matters.
Based on www.heart.org, here’s how they defined it - Peripheral artery disease is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries serving the legs, stomach, arms and head. (“Peripheral” in this case means away from the heart, in the outer regions of the body.) PAD most commonly affects arteries in the legs and is caused by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis narrows and blocks arteries in critical regions of the body.
While it is not fatal in itself, it greatly reduces a patient's quality of life and can lead to strokes, heart attacks, kidney problems, high blood pressure and lower limb pain. In severe cases when overlooked for protracted periods, this can lead to amputation and eventually death.
PAD is often a slow and progressive circulation disorder that is notoriously difficult to self-diagnose or discover. Unlike coronary artery disease where warning signs such as chest pain, shortness of breath can set alarm bells ringing leading to early detection, PAD’s symptoms can easily be overlooked - painful cramping below the hips, numbness in legs and a weak pulse in one’s legs and feet. To make detection even harder, these symptoms can go away with rest, leading patients to brush these episodes aside without realising they are potentially on the brink of a stroke or heart attack. Fact: a person with peripheral artery disease is up to four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
The incidence rate of PAD is increasing rapidly globally but the rate of increase in Asia is four times compared to Europe. Key reasons include:
- Increase in ageing population
- Lifestyle changes leading to increased prevalence of obesity and metabolic disorders
These drivers contribute to atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque, or commonly known as fats, cholesterol and other substances, in blood vessels. When plaque forms and builds up in blood vessels, they harden, narrow and eventually get occluded.
Other than making lifestyle changes to manage the symptoms and stop the progression of the disease, there are three main treatment methods for PAD:
- Drug treatment - addresses patients with mild symptoms
- Surgical treatment - not ideal as it often leaves large wounds and require a longer healing period
- Interventional treatment - less traumatic with high recovery rate and lower down-time.
Safer and More Effective Treatments with Innovation
PAD management has drastically changed over the years with shifts toward more endovascular services and less open surgery. Revolution in endovascular therapies now also allow treatment of previously unsalvageable vessels (i.e., calcified and smaller diameter vessels). To name a few:
- Speciality stents for PAD applications with improved flexibility, radial strength and resistance to fracture
- Drug-coated balloons provide the option of drug delivery to the vessel wall without a stent, significantly reducing restenosis rates.
- Balloon angioplasty catheters with lithotripsy pulsatile mechanical energy to aid in breaking apart the calcium buildup within the vessels
It is to this end that we are doubling our efforts in working with the right partners to bring innovative medical technology that can have a profound impact on patients in Asia. Last year, we acquired Chocolate Touch®, the world's first balloon catheter that combines therapeutic agent delivery with the next generation of controlled dilation angioplasty technique, designed to provide a safer and more effective treatment for patients.
By working with world-class technology providers, we are confident of bringing the right technology into the hands of practitioners at speed, while keeping costs competitive through our vertically integrated platform, bringing alternatives and hope to millions of patients and caregivers alike.