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Royal Glamorgan Hospital first in NHS Wales to use world-leading technology to fight heart disease

HeartFlow, Inc. and Royal Glamorgan Hospital are working together to help clinicians diagnose one of Wales’ biggest killers, coronary heart disease (CHD). To mark National Heart Month, the hospital is raising awareness of symptoms of heart disease and using the HeartFlow Analysis to help local people avoid unnecessary invasive procedures.

Royal Glamorgan is the first NHS hospital in Wales to adopt the HeartFlow Analysis as part of a CT-first approach to diagnosing heart disease. This technology requires only a single hospital visit for a non-invasive cardiac CT scan. The HeartFlow Analysis is used for appropriate patients and the results are returned promptly to clinicians to enable a diagnosis of CHD. A personalised management plan can then be made within a matter of days of the cardiac CT scan being performed. This rapidity of diagnosis is a critical advantage amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

How does the technology work?

The HeartFlow Analysis takes data from a coronary CT scan and leverages deep learning (a form of AI) and highly trained analysts to create a personalised, digital 3D model of the patient’s coronary arteries. Its algorithms solve millions of equations to simulate blood flow in a patient’s arteries to help clinicians assess the impact of any blockages.

This unique technology helps clinicians quickly diagnose CHD and decide the appropriate treatment for patients. In many cases, the information provided by the HeartFlow Analysis helps physicians to avoid recommending unnecessary invasive diagnostic procedures, which can carry their own risks of complications.

Gethin Ellis, Consultant Cardiologist, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, says: “Heart disease is one of the biggest health challenges in our community and we run a busy cardiology service. Using CT scanning with the HeartFlow Analysis means we can get answers for our patients quickly and, in many cases, help them avoid invasive diagnostic procedures. During National Heart Month, we’re urging people to pay attention to their own hearts and seek medical attention if they’re experiencing symptoms of CHD. Common symptoms include exertional chest pain or tightness, symptomatic heart palpitations and undue breathlessness, particularly with low intensity activities.”

Sally Bolt, Consultant Radiologist and Director of Support Services for Radiology, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board says: “We’re proud to be the first NHS site in Wales to offer this advanced service to our patients. Working with HeartFlow allows us to confidently identify those patients who can be treated with medication alone. Not only does this improve patient experience, but it reduces waiting times and helps us prioritise further investigations for those who need it most. Using a CT-led approach for diagnosis also allows us to reduce time spent in hospital, an important consideration during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Grant Griffiths, Consultant Thoracic Radiologist, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, says: “With the help of the HeartFlow Analysis, we’re able to promptly tell patients if they have CHD and whether their condition is moderate or more serious and in need of further intervention. Frequently, we’re able to help them avoid further procedures and can confidently recommend other treatment plans. This is great for patients as they’re able to avoid undergoing procedures that they may not ultimately need and that can come with certain risks.”

Lance Scott, Chief Commercial Officer at HeartFlow said: “The global pandemic has certainly increased appetite for digital technologies that are able to assist medical professionals with efficiencies and the diagnosis of disease. The CT-HeartFlow pathway has meant patients spend less time in hospitals and improves their hospital experience with faster outcomes.”

“The NHS continues to lead the world with its approach to CHD diagnosis, one of the country’s biggest killers. We’re pleased to be working with Royal Glamorgan Hospital to help streamline the patient diagnostic experience and reduce unnecessary procedures. Patients can receive a diagnosis and treatment plan after just one trip to the hospital and many can go home reassured that they only need to be treated with medication.”