UAE Heart Patients Given New Lease of Life
With over 40 per cent of all deaths in the UAE caused by cardiovascular diseases, sufferers of severe heart conditions will now benefit from cutting-edge technology that will monitor their condition wherever they are in the country.
Dubai Healthcare City’s Vitaphone and German Heart Centre (GHC) have partnered to develop a UAE Centre of Excellence for the treatment of cardiovascular disease and the monitoring of patients using mobile diagnostic equipment and transmitters.
And Dr Klaus Kallmayer, chairman of German Heart Centre explains how the system will give those with heart conditions a new lease of life. “Our 24/7 specialised call centre now brings top healthcare right to a patients home. There is no more need to regularly drive to the clinic as everything our cardiovascular specialists need can be done by the patient from the comfort of their own home and transmitted to our computers, giving peace of mind for patients and their families.
“More than 80 per cent of patients forget to take their medication regularly or measure their blood sugar levels correctly. When a patient has a headache they can immediately take a pill, however high blood pressure can go unnoticed until it gets critical. Therefore this new technology will not only make things easier for heart patients, but should also make it safer.”
Adherence to the treatment strategy is a vital component to prevent further heart attacks. Medication needs to be taken on time and vital medical data, such as blood pressure, blood sugar level and heart rhythm are regularly monitored by a specialist, which is the biggest benefit of Vitaphone’s technology.
In December 2009, senior Ministry of Health official, Dr Ali Ahmad Bin Shakar revealed 41 per cent of all deaths in the country were caused by cardiovascular disease and announced forecasts predicting deaths from strokes and coronary heart diseases to triple in the Middle East over the next twenty years. Dr Mahmoud Fikri, chief executive of health policies in the UAE Ministry of Health also stated that 36 per cent of the population suffers from hypertension, a major cause of heart disease.
Kai Trompeter, Vitaphone’s executive director Middle East, says, “Having just started rolling this out in the UAE we are already seeing huge interest in this market from existing patients and there are already over 500 electrocardiograms being sent in using the technology. The product is easy to use and we have the utmost confidence in German Heart Centre, which has highly experienced German cardiologists on call to deal with any incidents at any time.
“For example heart-rhythm disorders occur sporadically and usually when no doctor or ECG device is in the vicinity. Patients at risk of heart attack receive a small, portable, intelligent ECG device, which they can wear like a necklace. This device constantly monitors the heart rhythm and in the case of an abnormality, will automatically detect this, record an ECG and send it to the doctor’s PC and Fax via Bluetooth and mobile phone, without the patient having to do anything further. This is almost like bringing the doctor to the patient and not the other way around.”
Dr Kallmayer adds, “One of our patients used to make regular visits from his home in Al Ain to our centre, which is a round trip of 280kilometres. We have now provided him with a Vitaphone device, which looks almost like a credit card, but is actually a portable ECG device. Now when he feels something could be wrong, he holds the card to his chest, an ECG is recorded and via his mobile phone the data is sent to us for analysis.”
Emirati German Heart Centre patient, JH, who suffers from hypertension and Type 2 diabetes describes his daily routine: “Every morning, the first thing I do is weigh myself on the scales provided in my home care package. I then take a simple blood pressure reading and measure my blood sugar levels. Throughout the day I am reminded by SMS of exactly which tablets to take and when I do my pill dispenser actually senses I have taken them. Immediately all of these devices send the results to my consultant via a Tele Care Monitor, which is a small box that once a day asks me to enter whether I had any additional symptoms such as nausea or dizziness. I don’t have to do anything else, just get on with my life. I’m trying to change my lifestyle by eating more healthily and doing some exercise but it’s nice to know that if something does happen then it will be detected instantly and I can get myself to hospital without delay.”
Dr Kallmayer concluded, “Results have shown that this self-monitoring leads to a much higher rate of compliance as the patient is better educated and feels more involved in their own healing process. It also allows us to monitor the patient’s health on a daily basis, significantly improving its outcome. This is definitely the future of long-term chronic disease treatment and, along with Vitaphone, we are happy to be leading the way in the UAE.”
Vitaphone’s extensive research carried out in Germany proves a significant reduction of treatment costs with a drastic improvement in patient wellbeing as a result of the technology.