A new technology, known as HeartFlow, will be used by the NHS to diagnose and treat around 100,000 patients with suspected heart disease, five times faster than normal.
The revolutionary technology turns a regular CT scan of the heart into a 3D image, allowing doctors to diagnose life-threatening heart disease within just twenty minutes.
This latest innovation is delivered as part of the NHS Long Term Plan to reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes by 150,000.
Patients will be seen, diagnosed and treated five times quicker than normal
The NHS has spent the last year under the most strain its ever experience; as a result, there is a huge backlog of unmet healthcare needs which will need to be addressed.
With an estimated three million fewer elective treatments occurring last year than usual, the new technology hopes to get services back on track after the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Where patients normally would have to go into hospital for an invasive and time-consuming angiogram, they will now be seen, diagnosed and treated in a time period that is five times quicker than normal.
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.
Deborah Robb, 68, underwent lifesaving surgery after being diagnosed with coronary heart disease using HeartFlow at University Hospitals North Midlands. She said: “My GP referred me to the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic at the hospital and from there I was booked in for a CT scan. It was so quick and easy, it only took about 20 minutes and then all of my appointments after that were virtual.
"Not long after I got home from having the scan Dr Duckett rung to tell me not to do anything too strenuous – because they had already been able to analyse the data and had seen the extent of the damage to my heart! Needless to say, this was all quite worrying, but I received such good and speedy care that it made it less stressful for me.”
NICE estimates that around 89,300 people with stable, recent onset chest pain who are offered coronary CT angiography as part of the NICE chest pain pathway will be eligible for HeartFlow FFRCT. Uptake will be steady from 2021, with around 35,600 people having HeartFlow FFRCT each year.
"Heartflow will help tens of thousands of people a year receive quick diagnosis and treatment"
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.”