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The market for cardiac markers used in primary care is experiencing a tremendous rate of growth across Europe due to their precise diagnostic properties. With rapid turn-around times, these cardiac markers are seen enabling cost reductions and improved patient outcomes.

International consulting firm Frost & Sullivan says that over the next three to four years, cardiac markers will be implemented more effectively in primary care to support decreased bed occupancy, hospital costs and physician time.

Frost & Sullivan said that the European primary care cardiac diagnostics market had revenues of $50.3 million in 2005 and estimates this to reach $149.4 million in 2012.

“Cardiac point-of-care testing [POCT] offers many benefits for primary care, particularly in improving turnaround results and in allowing earlier and more appropriate treatment,” said Dr. Fiona Rahman, Frost & Sullivan team leader of clinical diagnostics.

She added: “POCT can better satisfy customer needs with the introduction of new cardiac markers; in addition to boosting patient confidence with on-the-spot tests that improve disease diagnosis and monitoring, these diagnostics also enable the implementation of programs designed to prevent the onset of diseases.”

Cardiologists have developed the market by switching from conventional methods of heart disease diagnosis to these markers. The use of cardiac diagnostic tests in primary care is poised to grow due to the introduction of point-of-care technologies.

“These cardiac markers will give more valuable indications during emergencies towards determining appropriate treatments and the level of risk of a heart attack,” said Rahman. “The rapid turnaround times of cardiac markers will reduce costs and improve the treatment of patients admitted with chest pain.”

She said that although the science behind cardiac assessment is growing, the cardiology community still requires further education and training on the advantages of these risk markers. Rahman said medical communities in the UK and France in particular are hesitant to adopt new methods of diagnosing, treating and managing patients without adequate corroboration that they will make significantly enhanced contributions to patient well-being and cost savings.

“Physicians are skeptical about adopting novel markers and continue to rely on tried and tested methods of diagnosis, which are cheaper and do not require validation and scientific support,” she said. “These end users are reluctant to experiment with expensive markers, which are essential to complement more traditional diagnostic methods.”

In its report, “European Utilization of Cardiac Markers in Primary Care,” Frost & Sullivan said the challenge for manufacturers will be to promote cost-effective cardiac diagnostics markers as well as to encourage end users to trial and adopt risk tests as routine diagnosis.

Ultimately, the report said, increasing awareness about the benefits of using cardiac markers in primary care will benefit both healthcare providers and patients. Informed patients who understand the concept of cardiac markers are more likely to request the most current and novel markers available.

Gambro acquires Lithuanian dialysis clinics

Gambro Healthcare (Stockholm, Sweden) reported that it has started kidney dialysis operations in Lithuania by acquiring 11 clinics with about 300 patients. The company said the acquisition allows it to take a further step into the Baltic states, an important emerging market.

Bo-Inge Hansson, president of Gambro Healthcare, said, “I am very happy with this acquisition, which from the start gives us a strong presence in the Lithuanian market. It is an important strategic move, in line with our growth ambitions and is also a step to strengthen Gambro's overall position in emerging markets.”

The Lithuanian dialysis services market comprises about 1, 200 patients, of which half are treated in the private sector and the remainder in public hospitals. The market shows a lower prevalence of patients with chronic kidney disease than many other markets in Europe and is therefore expected to show substantial growth.

Gambro said the acquisition is expected to have a limited financial impact on a group level but is important from a strategic point of view. With this acquisition, Gambro Healthcare now operates in 15 countries and treats some 12,000 patients in about 160 clinics.

$1.8 million sale for Zoll

Zoll Medical (Chelmsford, Massachusetts) reported that Essex Ambulance Service NHS Trust in the UK has purchased more than 1 million (about $1.8 million) of Zoll resuscitation equipment.

The order includes 20 Zoll AutoPulse noninvasive cardiac support pumps, the largest single UK AutoPulse order to date. In addition, Essex Ambulance purchased 90 Zoll E Series and 90 Zoll AED Pro defibrillators.

Rob Ashford, locality general manager for Essex Ambulance, said that his crews had tested a number of competing devices over a four-month period. The overwhelming majority voted for Zoll as the devices they wished to use in the field.

With respect to the AutoPulse, Ashford said, “We believe this device can improve blood flow during sudden cardiac arrest. It can move much more blood than could ever be done with human hands during CPR. It also offers the benefit of freeing up paramedics and technicians to focus on other life-saving interventions.”

TomTec unveils new imaging software

TomTec Imaging Systems (Munich, Germany) reported the introduction of its 4-D RV-Function software for right ventricular function analysis. The company said the software is easy to use and enables fast and reliable measurements of RV functional parameters basing on 3-D echocardiographic datasets. The technology uses three-dimensional ultrasound data sets to combine the ease and speed of echocardiography with the accuracy of MRI. The software calculates a three-dimensional right ventricular surface model automatically from the endocardial contours in the 3-D data set. It uses this model to measure right ventricular end diastolic volume, end systolic volume and ejection fraction.

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