The news is full of ‘promising’ developments that may ‘one day’ lead to a brighter, healthier future. But for our annual survey of the latest medical breakthroughs, we decided to focus on game changers that are improving lives today. Each of these astounding new technologies and treatments is available, or will be in the near future, to make your life, and the lives of millions of other Americans, better.
Charles Griggs eats healthily most of the time (“I did have some fried fish today,” he admits with a laugh) and plays golf and basketball whenever he can. Yet he’s long had a nagging worry about his heart health. “As an athlete growing up, I always seemed to get tired first,” he says. “I wondered if I had a slight heart murmur."
Last summer Griggs, 61, a public relations professional from Jacksonville, Florida, participated in a health screening, and one of the tools the doctor had on hand was a “smart” stethoscope, which can detect the slightest of heart murmurs. When the doctor placed the stethoscope on his chest, Griggs admits, “I was a little nervous.”
His heart was fine, but several other people screened that day showed signs of heart disease. “Invariably, we find 5 to 10 percent of the people we screen have some form of valvular heart disease or atrial fibrillation [which raises their risk for heart failure and stroke],” says Antoine Keller, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, and cofounder of HeartSense, a nonprofit project aimed at detecting heart disease and other health risks in underserved and underrepresented populations. “This stethoscope allows doctors to identify heart murmurs before they can be heard. It changes the paradigm for early diagnosis.”