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NHS 3D heart scans to give 100,000 patients faster treatment © Peter Byrne/ PA News

NHS 3D heart scans to give 100,000 patients faster treatment

Published: 04th May, 2021 at 16:50
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Treatment will be five times faster.

Patients with life-threatening coronary heart disease will be diagnosed and treated five times faster thanks to 3D scans being rolled out on the NHS.


The revolutionary technology can turn a regular CT scan of the heart into a 3D image, allowing doctors to diagnose them in just 20 minutes, NHS England said.

It added that some 100,000 people will be eligible to use the HeartFlow technology over the next three years.

Patients – who would previously have had to undergo an invasive and time-consuming angiogram in hospital – are now set to be seen, diagnosed and treated around five times faster.

After diagnosis, treatments range from surgery or medication, to having a stent(a tube to keep a blocked artery open) fitted.

Patients with less serious conditions can be given healthy lifestyle tips or cholesterol-lowering medication.

Read more about the human heart:

This latest technology, rolled out from last month, is part of the NHS Long Term Plan aim to cut the number of heart attacks and strokes by 150,000.

NHS England said more people in the country will have access to the potentially life-saving technology than anywhere else in Europe, the US or Japan.

Matt Whitty, director of innovation and life sciences for NHS England, said HeartFlow had been a “huge success” in clinical trials and would now help “tens of thousands of people a year receive quick diagnosis and treatment and ultimately save lives”.

“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.”

Dr Derek Connolly, consultant interventional cardiologist at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, said the technology had had a “meaningful impact at our hospitals, improving the diagnosis and treatment of the leading cause of death”.

He added: “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.”


Jason Goodyer
Jason GoodyerCommissioning editor, BBC Science Focus

Jason is the commissioning editor for BBC Science Focus. He holds an MSc in physics and was named Section Editor of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors in 2019. He has been reporting on science and technology for more than a decade. During this time, he's walked the tunnels of the Large Hadron Collider, watched Stephen Hawking deliver his Reith Lecture on Black Holes and reported on everything from simulation universes to dancing cockatoos. He looks after the magazine’s and website’s news sections and makes regular appearances on the Science Focus Podcast.


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