Author: Badi Ebrahimifard, Chief Technology Officer & Vice President, Medical
In July 2021, fans of beloved actor Bob Odenkirk were concerned after he collapsed on his hit TV show "Better Call Saul." Thankfully — and amazingly — Mr. Odenkirk returned to Twitter a few days later, letting followers know1 that he'd had a "small heart attack" and that he was going to be okay thanks to "the doctors who knew how to fix the blockage without surgery."
Those two words – "without surgery" – are nothing new to those of us who work in the medical technology, or "medtech," field to enable minimally invasive procedures that deliver innumerable benefits to patients, such as reduced bodily trauma, accelerated recovery times, briefer hospital stays and cost savings. As heart disease and stroke incidence climb globally2, medtech has directly reduced fatalities by approximately 60 percent3.
TE Connectivity is a critical contributor to this trend. In fact, every minute, 120 patients are treated with a medical device containing TE technology. Today, we are witnessing two exciting developments in the medtech space: the normalizing of established minimally invasive procedures such as Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) and the emergence of new minimally invasive applications.
We are proud to partner with our customers to pioneer this moment through a number of technologies, making a safer, minimally invasive future a reality.
Through guidewires, catheters and other technologies, TE is developing solutions with vast potential to address an alarming and growing trend in global human health.
The statistics regarding heart disease are staggering. In the United States alone, one person dies every 36 seconds4 from a heart attack, coronary heart disease, or other forms of cardiovascular disease. It's hard to imagine that these numbers could be worse, but without widespread adoption of new technology brought on by decades of research and development, they would be.
Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI)—a non-surgical procedure that treats the narrowing of arteries found in coronary artery disease using a catheter—has been made possible by TE's technology. Our technologies are deployed in over 80 percent of all PCI stent placements worldwide. This solution and others, including Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) and Mitral Valve Repair and Replacement, are currently having an enormous impact on patient outcomes.
Long gone are the days when open-heart surgery was a patient's only option. PCI's pervasiveness signals a landmark shift in cardiovascular treatments and is driving real results in terms of patient outcomes, from a reduction in recovery time to a dramatic decrease in cost relative to traditional open-heart surgeries. Let's take a look at the positive impact this technological advancement has had on a common procedure over the past 30 years:
Encouraged in part by the success of PCI treatments, medical professionals have been eager to explore additional applications of minimally invasive procedures. In 2011, the FDA approved the first transcatheter device used for valve disease in the heart. This approval meant that for the first time, technologies like TAVR could be used to conduct aortic valve replacement through a small incision in a patient's leg. This unlocked a less invasive procedure with a multitude of benefits for patients, including individuals who would be considered too ill for open-heart surgery. Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger famously underwent a TAVR procedure in 2019. Six weeks later, he returned to practicing his iconic dance moves for an upcoming tour — one that would have been canceled had he undergone traditional open-heart surgery.
Minimally invasive procedures provide benefits beyond recovery time alone. Take, for example, Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), or an irregular heartbeat, which is experienced by 33 million people globally6. Patients with AFib have a four-to-five-fold risk of stroke, an issue compounded by clinical data that suggests that roughly 40 percent of AFib patients eligible for medication don't stick with pharmaceutical treatments. Taking a device-first approach to these treatments through electrophysiology, a test used to diagnose irregular heartbeats, eliminates uncertainties around human adherence to programs, dramatically mitigating the risks associated with pharmaceutical treatments while decreasing stroke rates.
In addition to cardiovascular applications, minimally invasive technology is being applied to neurovascular therapies, particularly with stroke victims. Currently, 15 million people worldwide suffer strokes annually, a figure that is increasing at a shocking 3 percent each year7. Like AFib, stroke patients have historically been treated solely through pharmaceuticals.
Now, a new device-led approach is opening a more effective solution to those still in need of a viable treatment option, resulting in better outcomes using devices and pharmaceuticals rather than with pharmaceuticals alone. Through guidewires, catheters and other technologies, TE Connectivity is developing solutions with vast potential to address an alarming and growing trend in global human health.
The toll of these commonplace diseases is staggering, impacting individuals across gender, racial and socioeconomic lines. As their prevalence continues to rise, the level of loss can be curtailed by the critical advancements in technology we are making every day. We couldn't be more proud to play a role in the delivery of safer, minimally invasive treatments.
If you are an investor interested in more information about TE Connectivity, please email our Investor Relations team.
Badi Ebrahimifard is chief technology officer and vice president of engineering for TE Medical. He is responsible for setting the overall technical direction for the Medical business unit, owning the technology roadmaps and providing leadership to the global medical engineering organization. Appointed to the role in May 2021, Badi has an extensive background in the design and development of complex systems and software, and more than 20 years of product, process and organizational development experience in the medical device, life science and biotechnology industries.
Executive Insights: More Stories in this Series
1 Bob Odenkirk, 2021, Bob Odenkirk Twitter
2 World Health Organization (WHO), 2020, - The top 10 causes of death (who.int)
3 EY, Pamela Spence and Jim Welch, 2019, As data personalizes medtech, how will you serve tomorrow’s consumer? | EY - US
4 Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2020, Heart Disease Facts | cdc.gov
5 Statista, 2020, Medical procedure costs by type U.S. 2019 | Statista
6 Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology (DAIC), 2020, Boston Scientific Initiates Trial to Evaluate Watchman FLX LAA Closure Device as First-Line Treatment | DAIC (dicardiology.com)
7 World Health Organization (WHO), 2021, WHO EMRO | Stroke, Cerebrovascular accident | Health topics