As Valentine's Day rolls around, we are once again confronted with all sorts of candies, decorations, and promotions in the malls. If you're happily in a relationship, maybe this is sweet and exciting. If you're single, this might be highly annoying. If you're unhappily single, you might be fighting the urge to adopt cats.

The cat urge might be particularly strong among anyone who's promised someone they would be together forever, only for things to fall apart later. It's easy to feel like these past relationships have left an emotional scar on your heart (as cheesy as that sounds, we all know it's true). Unfortunately, there's no real way to avoid that, although time is certainly helpful.

Now, if your heart is clinically broken, there might yet be hope. As a Valentine's Day special, here are a few technologies that are being developed that will literally leave less scarring if your heart is broken.

  1. Left atrial appendage (LAA) closure is a procedure used to decrease the chances of ischemic stroke in patients that suffer from atrial fibrillation. Recently, two new types of devices have emerged that can close the LAA in a minimally invasive manner: epicardial devices (which use suture closure from outside the heart) and endocardial devices (which plug the LAA from the inside the heart). Here's a video of an endocardial LAA occlusion, with a perfect soundtrack for Valentine's Day. These devices are not yet approved in the US, but the potential is thought to be huge.
  2. The cardiac rhythm management device market has continued to suffer due to concerns regarding implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs)specifically, transvenous leads. As a result, more companies have been looking into a way to avoid transvenous leads, both to reduce the associated risks and to reduce the invasiveness of the device. For example, Boston Scientific has developed the S-ICD system, which uses one subcutaneous electrode instead of multiple transvenous leads. Nanostim is also in the process of developing a leadless pill-sized ICD system that can be placed directly in the heart. While these products are not likely to fully replace traditional ICDs, they will likely allow a subset of patients to avoid the risks associated with transvenous leads.
  3. Another way in which the cardiovascular device market is working to reduce scarring is through the use of transcatheter heart valves. We've mentioned this market before because it has huge potential a lot of people who need heart valve replacement or repair are not candidates for open surgery. In the long run, transcatheter heart valve procedures could be used instead of open surgery in some patients, therefore drastically reducing the invasiveness of the procedure. The transcatheter heart valve market is projected to reach more than $880 million in revenues by 2017 in the US alone.
  4. Finally, and this is a bit more of a stretch, but still interesting bioresorbable stents are also attracting attention in the US. These products are eventually absorbed by the body, reducing the risk of late stent thrombosis. Abbott Laboratories has been spearheading the creation of the bioresorbable stent market with the launch of its ABSORB stent in Europe in late 2012. Although this product likely won't be available in the US for a few years, it is projected to generate more than $65 million in revenues in Europe by 2017.
So, in terms of medical technology, we've come a long way as far as reducing the scars left on patients after mending hearts. This might be small comfort to you though if you feel like Valentine's Day is just the world jabbing at an emotional scar. If that's the case, try your best to stay away from the Adele and ice cream tonight cats are a more long-term solution.

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