Health

The 3D scan that can spot heart disease in 20 minutes

The 3D scan that can spot heart disease in 20 minutes: Hi-tech imaging could enable doctors to diagnose patients five times faster… with 35,000 people set to benefit each year

  • HeartFlow introduced in UK to reduce time from first appointment to surgery 
  • It turns regular CT scan of heart into a 3D image that shows up any blockages  
  • Doctors are thus able to diagnose life-threatening heart disease in 20 minutes 

A scan that produces 3D images of the heart will allow NHS doctors to diagnose and treat patients five times faster.

More than 35,000 patients with suspected heart disease will benefit from the service each year, it is hoped.

HeartFlow was introduced nationwide last month and will reduce the time from a first appointment to surgery from 31 weeks to seven.

It turns a regular CT scan of the heart into a 3D image that shows blockages and restricted blood flow. This allows doctors to diagnose life-threatening heart disease in just 20 minutes.

Patients may be given surgery, cholesterol-busting statins or healthy lifestyle advice, depending on the severity of disease.

HeartFlow was introduced nationwide last month and will reduce the time from a first appointment to surgery from 31 weeks to seven. Pictured: Stock image

Previously, a diagnosis required an angiogram, which involves taking X-rays as a catheter is inserted into the groin or wrist and threaded to the heart to detect narrow or blocked arteries.

Heart and circulatory diseases cause more than a quarter (27 per cent) of all deaths in England, which is equal to around 133,000 a year or 370 a day.

Matt Whitty, director of innovation and life sciences for NHS England, said: ‘HeartFlow will help tens of thousands of people a year receive quick diagnosis and treatment and will ultimately save lives.’

It is anticipated that 100,000 people with chest pains will be eligible for a scan in England over the next three years.

The NHS has pledged to adopt new technology and reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes by 150,000 over the next decade as part of its long-term plan.

It turns a regular CT scan of the heart into a 3D image that shows blockages and restricted blood flow. Pictured: Stock image

It turns a regular CT scan of the heart into a 3D image that shows blockages and restricted blood flow. Pictured: Stock image

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.

‘Incorporating the HeartFlow Analysis has had a meaningful impact at our hospitals, improving the diagnosis and treatment of a leading cause of death.’

Stephen Powis, medical director at NHS England, said: ‘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.

‘By rapidly improving the rate we diagnose and treat those with a heart condition we will save thousands of lives and ensure the NHS is able to deliver routine services even quicker than before the pandemic.’

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