What is HeartFlow?
HeartFlow Analysis is a non-invasive, cardiac test for stable symptomatic patients with coronary heart disease which is the most common form of cardiovascular disease. Coronary heart disease develops when fatty material builds up inside the coronary arteries through a process called atherosclerosis. Over time, the arteries may narrow and restrict the blood flow and oxygen supply to vital organs.
The HeartFlow Analysis uses data from a non-invasive coronary CT scan which is uploaded to HeartFlow. An analyst uses the CT image data to create 3D computer models of the coronary arteries which simulate blood flow and assess the impact of blockages on coronary blood flow. HeartFlow is an alternative to coronary angiography which is an invasive diagnostic procedure involving the insertion of a catheter into a blood vessel through which dye is injected to show on an X-ray any blood vessels that are narrowed or blocked.
Why is the Heartflow Required?
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. CAD develops when the coronary arteries become blocked or narrowed and they are unable to deliver sufficient oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This is usually caused by a build-up of plaque in the arteries which supply blood to the heart. Due to the variety of symptoms, circumstances and comorbidities that patients can display, timely diagnosis can often be difficult to achieve. A number of non-invasive tests can be used to help diagnose CAD. However, they often provide low accuracy, low sensitivity or are not able to provide information about blockages in the heart’s arteries. This can often lead to patients undergoing an invasive cardiac catheterisation (coronary angiogram) procedure which involves a catheter being inserted into blood vessels and then travelling up to the heart and coronary arteries. A dye is then injected through the catheter into the arteries and x-ray images are taken showing the blood vessels which the dye travels through and highlights any that are narrowed or blocked. Many of the patients who undergo an invasive coronary angiogram do not have obstructive CAD, and as such the use of CCTA in combination with FFR analysis (HeartFlow) will lead to a reduction in the number of patients requiring additional angiogram procedures and reduce demand on further cardiology and radiography services.
What solution does Heartflow provide?
HeartFlow analysis is a non-invasive test that creates a personalised 3D model of an individual’s coronary arteries. The model is created using images from a standard non-invasive coronary CT scan along with the application of artificial and human intelligence. The 3D model of the coronary arteries generated identifies the areas where blockages of greater than 30% have been modelled. The information from the 3D model provides clinicians with the detailed information required to better understand the severity of disease and plan for the most appropriate treatment. The HeartFlow analysis is more accurate than other non-invasive tests and can reduce the number of unnecessary tests and procedures.
What impact does Heartflow have?
Each analysis is able to show the impact that blockages have on blood flow to the heart which provides clinicians with the detailed information required to determine the severity of a patient’s CAD. The 3D personalised model that clinicians receive for their patients who have undergone a HeartFlow analysis will provide clarity when planning future treatment.
HeartFlow will aid both clinicians and patients by improving diagnostic accuracy; this will in turn reduce invasive procedures, decrease the number of associated complications and improve efficiency. The NICE guidance demonstrates that HeartFlow can potential reduce care costs with an average saving of over £200 per patient due to a reduction of invasive diagnostic testing.
Work has gone in to developing a tool to calculate the approximate cost savings associated with HeartFlow at a provider level. This is available from your local AHSN or HeartFlow representative.
From April 2021 Heartflow is one of four technologies included under the new NHS MedTech Funding Mandate.
Case study: Heartflow
How can I find out more?
Visit Heartflow to find out more
Alternatively, get in touch with a member of the project team below.