New NHS 3D heart scanners will save thousands of lives

Tom Kerridge is told he is at 'high risk' of heart disease

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The health service has today announced it will distribute HeartFlow to patients across the country to allow doctors to diagnose life-threatening coronary heart disease in just 20 minutes. The technology turns a regular CT scan of the heart into a three-dimensional image. Currently patients have an angiogram which involves going into hospital for an invasive and time-consuming procedure. The innovation is part of the NHS goal to reduce heart attacks and strokes by 150,000 over 10 years.

NHS medical director Stephen Powis said: “By rapidly improving the rate we diagnose and treat those with a heart condition we will save thousands of lives.

“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.”

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.

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.

The NHS said more people in England will have access to the lifesaving technology than anywhere in Europe, the US or Japan.

Dr Derek Connolly, consultant interventional cardiologist at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “For every five patients who have a cardiac CT and a HeartFlow analysis, four patients go home knowing they don’t need anything else. Half of those patients will be on cholesterol tablets because they have early disease, and the other half will have normal coronary arteries.”

Matt Whitty, director of innovation and life sciences for NHS England, said HeartFlow has been a “huge success” in clinical trials and will save lives.

The NHS hopes the innovation, which began being rolled out from last month, will help clear the backlog caused by the pandemic.

NHS staff treated around 400,000 patients who were seriously ill with Covid-19 over the last year.

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