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Heart Health

2020 vision: Cardiology trends to watch

January 1, 2020

Several new technologies and medications that may benefit the heart are moving into cardiology care.

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As regular readers of the Heart Letter know, our features tend to focus on lifestyle advice and currently available therapies for heart disease. As the new decade begins, we're also looking to the future. Editor in Chief Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt selected five promising new developments in cardiovascular research that you may be hearing more about in the coming years.

1. Digital stethoscopes

First developed more than 200 years ago, the instrument doctors use to listen to the heart and lungs has undergone some high-tech improvements in recent years. The latest digital stethoscopes feature specialized microphones and sensors that filter, buffer, and amplify sounds from the heart. The sounds are then converted to a digital signal and sent wirelessly to a smartphone, where the patterns can be visualized and further analyzed. Some models are so sensitive they can detect turbulent blood flow in the arteries of the heart, possibly enabling doctors to detect coronary artery disease. Studies assessing that potential use are currently under way.

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