New 3D scans to speed heart disease diagnosis for NHS

New 3D scans to speed heart disease diagnosis for NHS
Courtesy: PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou | Brand X Pictures via Getty Images

The UK’s health service is rolling out revolutionary technology to diagnose and treat around 100,000 patients with suspected heart disease, five times faster than normal.

The National Health Service (NHS) said the technology known as HeartFlow turns a regular CT scan of the heart into a 3D image allowing doctors to diagnose life-threating coronary heart disease in just 20 minutes. Previously patients would have to go into hospital for an invasive and time-consuming angiogram.

Cutting edge

“The NHS Long Term Plan committed to cutting strokes, heart attacks and other major killers as well as ensuring patients would benefit from cutting edge therapies and techniques and HeartFlow is just the latest example of that,” said NHS medical director Stephen Powis.

“By rapidly improving the rate we diagnose and treat those with a heart condition we will save thousands of lives and ensure as well as delivering the most successful vaccination programme in health service history, the NHS is able to deliver routine services even quicker than before the pandemic,” said Powis.

Under the plan, patients will now be seen, diagnosed, and treated, around five times quicker, offering more convenient care and helping NHS staff get services back on track after the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It is part of the NHS Long Term Plan goal to reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes by 150,000.

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Quick result

Once patients are diagnosed using the 3D image, treatments include surgery, medication or having a stent fitted. For less serious cases patients will be given tips on healthy lifestyle changes or cholesterol-lowering medication – meaning the risk is quickly resolved before it becomes life-threatening.

Matt Whitty, director of innovation and life sciences for NHS England, said: “This latest innovation will help patients and will contribute to helping the NHS to recover from the pandemic as we continue to deliver on our ambitious Long Term Plan commitments to provide patients across the country with the most up to date tech, as quickly as possible.

“HeartFlow has been a huge success in clinical trials and will now help tens of thousands of people a year receive quick diagnosis and treatment and ultimately save lives.”

Around 100,000 people are eligible to use HeartFlow over the next three years, with more than 35,000 people set to benefit each year, according to the NHS.

This latest technology has been rolled out across the NHS from last month as part of the MedTech Funding Mandate policy for the NHS Long Term Plan, which supports the implementation of proven medical devices, diagnostics and digital products.

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