The bionic human isn't the future. It's the present.

With Tech, Bionic Humans Near Reality

Jun 23 2020

Once the realm of science fiction, the idea of a bionic human — flesh meeting machine — is coming closer every day.

While people aren't jumping over buildings in a single bound or running faster than speeding bullets, we've advanced to the point where we're using innovative medical technology — like the spinal cord stimulator — to help people to live longer and be treated for maladies once manageable only through prescription medicines or complex surgeries.

Abbott's advances in the fields of heart health, diabetes and chronic pain have allowed people to lead healthier, fuller lives by adding innovative medical technology to their body.

Heart health

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. With so many people affected by heart disease, it's critical for health professionals to have effective treatment options available.

One common condition that affects the heart is coronary artery disease, which develops when one of your arteries gets blocked or damaged. These blockages can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and may lead to a heart attack.

Treatment of coronary artery disease was once limited to medications that help manage symptoms and prevent complications. Many of these medications are still regularly used, but none of them can open up a clogged artery.

First performed in 1977, balloon angioplasty is a procedure that opens arterial blockage. The next leap was balloon angioplasty with stenting. This procedure keeps arteries clear by permanently inserting a tiny mesh tube called a stent into the narrow portion of the artery. Depending on the degree of blockage, stents have been found to be effective in treating heart attacks with 85% of patients free from subsequent cardiovascular events 5 years1 after stent implantation.

Stent technology continues to develop, and Abbott's XIENCETM stents are at the forefront of innovation, helping millions of people worldwide live their best lives.

XIENCE stents are made from medical-grade cobalt and chromium and are coated with a thin layer of polymer that releases a drug called everolimus, which lowers the likelihood of the artery becoming blocked again.

XIENCE Sierra, the newest model in the line, is specifically designed to help doctors better treat people with complicated blockages — especially ones that involve multiple or totally blocked arteries. It's also designed to help treat people with cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes.

Diabetes management

People living with diabetes need to manage their glucose levels closely, maintain a healthy eating plan, and take the proper medications among other potential lifestyle changes. The only way to know if your glucose levels are where they need to be though is through accurate glucose monitoring.

You can regularly monitor your glucose levels using a traditional blood glucose meter. While most of these devices are efficient and still commonly used, they require a blood sample, which can be painful, is a hassle2 and only provide limited information.

Newer technology like integrated continuous glucose monitors — such as Abbott's FreeStyle Libre 2 system — allows adults and kids 4 and up to see minute-by-minute glucose readings with unsurpassed 14-day accuracy3, offers optional real-time alarms to alert users when their glucose is going too low or high, as well as identify glucose trends with a directional arrow and review eight hours of glucose history with just a quick, one-second scan of a sensor worn on the back of the upper arm.

Not only does that mean goodbye fingersticks,4 but this new technology allows people with diabetes to get fast, painless5 and accurate results so that they're able to make more informed decisions about their treatment.

Pain relief

Chronic pain can be extremely debilitating for those living with it. Severe chronic pain can be caused by an illness, surgery or injury. Burning, stabbing, sharp pain, numbness or general aches or discomfort lasting longer than 3 months are all symptoms of chronic pain. The bottom line is although chronic pain can vary from person to person, it can be extremely difficult to live with.

Depending on the underlying cause of the pain, a variety of medications and treatments can be used to help provide some relief. But, some pain medications can have serious and significant side effects, making treatment challenging.

Spinal cord stimulators can offer hope for those suffering from chronic pain. A spinal cord stimulator works by sending signals to the brain to help modify sensory and emotional pathways impacted by chronic pain. These types of products can offer significant relief without the side effects of medication.

BurstDRTM stimulation is Abbott's latest innovation in spinal cord stimulation. It reduces pain by changing the way your body perceives its signals. After a short outpatient trial procedure confirms effective pain relief, a generator — a small implanted electronic device similar to a cardiac pacemaker — sends pulses through thin wires along your spinal cord, modifying the body's pain signals as they travel to different parts of the brain. BurstDR stimulation is indicated for chronic pain located throughout your trunk and/or limbs, and studies6 show that BurstDR stimulation may improve the ability to perform everyday activities.

These are just three pieces of medical technology available today that are replacing traditional treatments. And although these medical advancements may seem like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, these technologies are truly helping people with medical conditions live longer, more fulfilling lives.

1. Kereiakes D, et al. Circulation. 2019;140:1895-1903. Target Lesion Failure at 5 years – XIENCE arm of study.
2. Hortensius, Johanna., et al. Perspectives of patients with type 1 or insulin-treated type 2 diabetes on self-monitoring of blood glucose: a qualitative study. BMC Public Health 12.1 (2012): 167.
3. FreeStyle Libre 2 User Manual
4. Fingersticks are required if your glucose alarms and readings do not match symptoms or when you see Check Blood Glucose symbol during the first 12 hours.
5. Data on file. Abbott Diabetes Care.
6. Deer T, Slavin KV, Amirdelfan K, et al. Success Using Neuromodulation With BURST (SUNBURST) Study: Results From a Prospective, Randomized Controlled Trial Using a Novel Burst Waveform. Neuromodulation. 2017;20(6):543-552.

For important safety information on FreeStyle Libre 14 day, please click here.

For important safety information on XIENCE stents, please click here.

For important safety information on Spinal Cord Stimulation, please click here.


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