Science steps up its game in the world of health and medicine.
By PopSci Staff
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Grand Award Winner: Edwards Lifesciences Sapien Transcatheter Heart Valve
Each year, about 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from aortic valve stenosis, a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve that can lead to a heart attack. In severe cases, doctors perform open-heart surgery to replace the valve, but many patients are too frail to undergo such a procedure; fifty percent of those who don’t get surgery die within two years.
The Sapien Transcatheter Heart Valve, which unlike other replacements can be inserted through an artery, should make it possible to give a new valve to many people who were previously ineligible. The Sapien consists of flaps of cow tissue sewn onto a metal frame. It can collapse from a diameter of about an inch to that of a pencil—thin enough to fit through the femoral artery.
Once the valve is in the right location, doctors push it open with a balloon. The mesh then holds the device in place, while the flaps prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction. In trials, patients who received the valve were 40 percent more likely to be alive a year later.
Diameter 23 or 26 mm Weight: 2.0 or 2.6 ounces Price: $30,000
The Icelandic firm Össur changed medicine several years ago with its bionic prosthetic knee and ankle, both of which use force sensors and accelerometers to monitor the environment and the body. Now, the company has combined the knee and the ankle into one prosthetic leg. With two intelligent joints cooperating together, users can navigate stairs and inclines with fewer trips and falls. The leg also allows wearers to walk with a better gait, reducing the back and hip pain
commonly associated with prostheses.
Weight limit: 275 pounds Battery life: 16–24 hours Price: Not set