Dr. Manny's Medical Breakthroughs for 2009

Today I want to talk about some of the most promising medical breakthroughs that we could see in the New Year.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be looking at different diseases - but for now, I want to concentrate on heart disease. Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., and even though new drugs to reduce cholesterol and diagnostic tools, such as the Ultrafast CT scan to predict coronary artery disease, have made a tremendous difference in mortality - more work needs to be done.

So, here are three new exciting possibilities for 2009_

Percutaneous valve replacementA valve replacement procedure is currently a major surgery where the chest is opened up to repair or replace diseased heart valves. But new technology could introduce the replacement of these valves through blood vessels, and without the need for major surgery. This would reduce the possibility of complications, side effects and recovery time after surgery.

Safer drugsCoumadin is a blood thinner that millions of Americans take everyday - and it is especially popular among those who have had heart surgery. This medication is a strong anticoagulant, meaning it reduces the formation of blood clots, but it has many side effects. Newer drugs will improve efficacy and reduce side effects. Semi-artificial hearts Small, mechanical pumps that can be placed in the heart prevent it from failing may extend the lives of patients on the transplant waiting list, and in many cases, may even void the need for heart transplantation in the future.

In my next blog I'll be talking about new breakthroughs in cancer treatment and Alzheimer's disease. I know the present feels overwhelming, but the future, at least in medicine, looks very bright.