Canadian Medical Innovations Take the World Stage
Research and Innovations Inspired by the work of Canadian biomedical engineers John Hopps and Gordon Bigelow, the founder of Medtronic, Earl Bakken, developed the first battery-operated wearable artificial pacemaker in 1957.
Since then, Medtronic has become one of the largest medical technology companies in the world, with a presence in more than 160 countries worldwide.
That wouldn’t be the last time Medtronic built upon Canadian innovations and brought them to the world stage.
The Reveal LINQ™ Insertable Cardiac Monitor
The Reveal LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM) is the world’s smallest implantable cardiac monitoring device. The original Reveal ICM was developed in Canada as a result of a collaboration between physician Dr. George Klein and Medtronic.
The device allows doctors to continuously monitor patients who are believed to suffer from cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) in an attempt to diagnose the cause of unexplained stroke or unexplained syncope (fainting). Syncope affects approximately 40% of Canadians at least once during their lifetime.
The miniscule device—the size of two matchsticks and weighing less than three grams—can be implanted just under the skin to the left of the breastbone as part of a minimally invasive five-minute outpatient procedure with only a minor incision required.
Using cutting edge mobile technology, the Reveal LINQ ICM wirelessly sends the patient’s specialist a record of each day’s heart rhythm data.
The specialist can request to receive alerts to their smartphone when their patient has specific cardiac rhythm events, which could enable doctors to intervene earlier.
"Untreated AF patients have a five-times higher risk of stroke."
Arctic Front Advance™ Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter
Another Canadian-made invention that Medtronic played a big part in bringing to the global market is the Arctic Front Advance Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter, which was developed to treat atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition that is characterized by an irregular and often very fast heart rate.
In collaboration with physicians at the Montreal Heart Institute, Cryocath Technologies led the development of this novel approach to treating cardiac arrhythmias.
In 2008, Medtronic acquired CryoCath Technologies, significantly expanding the reach of the Arctic Front system in and outside of Canada, which has been used to treat more than 100,000 patients worldwide.
AF can cause heart palpitations, fatigue and shortness of breath, and can increase the risk of blood clots and stroke. Untreated AF patients have a five-times higher risk of stroke. The annual cost of stroke to the Canadian economy for physician services, hospital costs, lost wages and decreased productivity is $3.6 billion.
The aim of AF catheter ablation is to stop electrical currents from travelling from the pulmonary veins to the atria.
The breakthrough cryoablation technology delivers a cooling material through an inflatable balloon to freeze tissue at the entrance of the pulmonary veins and, therefore, stop the abnormal electrical currents that contribute to AF. When the disruptive tissue is frozen, it is no longer able to interrupt the heart’s normal, healthy rhythm.
"These are terrific first steps, as medical innovations will enable transformation within the healthcare system, and will also help to sustain an industry that has a legacy of Canadian ingenuity and leadership."
Giving Canadians Access to Innovations
From a disease management and economic perspective, this pursuit of medical innovation is good news for all Canadians.
The healthcare system and its partners need to ensure Canadians are on the leading edge of access to new treatment options. Governments in Canada have acknowledged this challenge and the Ontario Health Innovation Council has made recommendations on how to more systematically bring medical innovations to patients.
The Federal Government has also created an Advisory Panel on Health Innovation that is looking at this issue through a national lens.
These are terrific first steps, as medical innovations will enable transformation within the healthcare system, and will also help to sustain an industry that has a legacy of Canadian ingenuity and leadership.