AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT DISTRIBUTED IN THE GUARDIAN ON BEHALF OF MEDIAPLANET WHO TAKE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ITS CONTENTS
SEPTEMBER 2018 HEALTHAWARENESS.CO.UK
“My ﬁrst attack happened while I was playing basketball. I was a fat kid, but it was nothing to do with that!” Andy Tennant P14
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
IN THIS ISSUE
READ MORE ON HEALTHAWARENESS.CO.UK Virendra Sharma Why every patient should have access to the best heart failure services and specialists
Paul Forsyth Lead Pharmacist for Clinical Cardiology in Primary Care for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, shares his views on why a multidisciplinary approach is essential to effectively treat patients with heart failure
Andy Tennant How one operation allowed him to fulfil his talent as a cyclist, reaching the top of the sport in under five years P14
PLATELET PRODUCTION SOURCE: ABDULLAH OBAID KHAN, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM
Heart health is a human right
Professor David Wood President, World Heart Federation
World Heart Day takes place on 29 September every year and is the World Heart Federation’s – and the world’s – biggest platform for raising awareness about cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and stroke.
his year, our My Heart, Your Heart campaign focuses on looking after our own hearts and the hearts of our loved ones. It’s about saying to ourselves, the people we care about and individuals all around the world: “What can I do right now to look after my heart... and your heart?” It also champions the vital role of cardiology and healthcare professionals who dedicate themselves to looking after all our hearts. So, on and around the 29 September, we are asking the world to make a promise. A promise as an individual to get more active, say no
to smoking or eat more healthily. A promise as a healthcare professional to save more lives, or as a politician to implement a noncommunicable disease (NCD) action plan. The World Heart Federation and its 200-plus members believe in a world where heart health for everyone is a fundamental human right and a crucial element of global health justice. Regardless of country, region, origin, race, gender, age, education and revenues, each human being is entitled to cardiovascular health and wellbeing through health promotion, access to prevention, control and management of cardiovascular disease.
Heart disease and stroke claim 17.7 million lives a year World Heart Day informs people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading causes of death, claiming 17.7 million lives each year.
factors – such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity – at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided. Every year we are astounded at the huge – and growing – number of people who take part in the campaign. People organise activities aimed at promoting better cardiovascular health and help to spread the word via social media and other networks. It is inspiring to see so many people from all countries and backgrounds joining in the ﬁght against the CVD burden, and driving international action to encourage heart-healthy living across the world.
At least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided
The day highlights the actions that individuals can take to prevent and control CVD. It aims to drive action to educate people that, by controlling risk @MediaplanetUK
World Heart Day brings together a community of specialists World Heart Day reaches every corner of the planet to help us spread essential awareness of what everyone can do for my heart, for your heart, for all our hearts. It plays a vital role in the World Heart Federation’s mission to bring together the diverse cardiovascular community: the scientiﬁc cardiology societies, heart foundations, health professionals, individual citizens, patients and family members, policymakers, governments and industry, all to advance our cause of heart health for everyone. Because every heartbeat matters.
Project Manager: Kate Clements E-mail: email@example.com Business Development Manager: Georgia Gerstein Content and Production Manager: Kate Jarvis Managing Director: Alex Williams Head of Business Development: Rebecca Nicholson Digital Manager: Jenny Hyndman Designer: Kiane Blackman Digital Intern: Harvey O’Donnell Mediaplanet contact information: Phone: +44 (0) 203 642 0737 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
CALCIUM REEF SOURCE: BHF SITE, DR RHEURE ALVES-LOPES, UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW
How to turn back time on heart health Dr Joel Kahn Founder, The Kahn Center for Cardiac LONGEVITY
The fabled anti-ageing secret is deep inside in our own bodies – and harnessing its power might be easier than you might think.
verything we do without even noticing, from moving our limbs to our hearts pumping blood around the body, is driven by mitochondria. Dr Joel Kahn, Founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity in Detroit, says: “Everything the body does is based on making energy, and the mitochondria is the way it does that.” The microscopic “power plants” inside every living cell convert food and oxygen into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the chemical energy that cells need to function and to keep organs like the heart healthy. They also support the cells’ everyday tasks by sending messages
SPONSORED to other components of the cell, tailoring them to perform speciﬁc functions, and controlling the processes of cell growth and self-destruction.
CoQ10 protects the mitochondria; we produce less CoQ10 as we age Dr Kahn explained that how well the mitochondria can do their job is dependent on an antioxidant produced naturally by the body, called CoQ10. “CoQ10 is so important for every cell. We make a lot of it in our youth, but that becomes less and less as we get older. It’s a normal part of the ageing process,” he said.
The result is an open-door policy for oxidative stress, or “free radicals”. Free radicals are generated by the cells’ biochemical processes. Exposure to pollution, a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle also increase the body’s levels of the cell-damaging free radicals. It means that mitochondrial function starts to slow down at around the age of 30, and after that declines by about 10% every decade. This has been linked to more than 200 health conditions, as cells are left without the energy they need to do their job. It is those that need the largest amount of energy, such as the heart muscle cells, that are the worse affected.
Science shows CoQ10 supplements work But Dr Kahn said there was a simple, scientifically proven, but often overlooked, solution in the shape of CoQ10 supplements. “We do not have an easy way of testing for mitochondrial function, but we can test for levels of CoQ10 in the blood and supplement if needed,” he said. “This is all supported by hundreds of research studies and there are so many beneﬁts. We know that it boosts heart function and reduces the risk of congestive heart failure.” A recent Swedish randomised controlled trial, the highest level of trusted evidence, found that people
MitoQ® is breakthrough CoQ10 technology that improved heart health in six weeks Taking a simple supplement can turn back time when it comes to heart health, found a landmark ﬁrst-inhuman study. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder concluded that taking MitoQ® every day for six weeks signiﬁcantly improved the vascular function of healthy adults aged between 60 and 79. “As people age, they are at greater risk for cardiovascular health issues that can be caused by poor diets and a lack of exercise,” said Greg Macpherson, CEO of supplement manufacturer MitoQ®, the advanced CoQ10 technology tested in the study. “MitoQ® is a signiﬁcant advanced on standard CoQ10 supplements, because it actively targets the mitochondria, delivering meaningful levels of CoQ10 exactly where it is needed most. This is a world ﬁrst andshows that MitoQ® represents a very promising complementary or alternative heart health strategy for maintaining flexible arteries and reducing cardiovascular health issues.”
over the age of 70 who took a CoQ10 supplement lived longer, for example. Dr Kahn added: “I have patients who are highly motivated to live a good life, free from disease. “If there is a randomised study to say that a freely available vitamin, along with all the other components of a healthy life, may help your chances of doing that, why wouldn’t you recommend it?”
Flexible arteries The study, published in journal Hypertension, found the supplement improved the arteries’ ability to dilate by 42%. This ﬂexibility is essential for healthy blood pressure. The supplement also signiﬁcantly reduced the stiffness of the arteries, a classic risk factor for heart disease. Levels of plasma-oxidized LDL, a marker of free radical cell damage, also dropped. Authors of the randomised controlled study said: “Our results provide initial support for the idea that MitoQ, and potentially other mitochondria-targeted antioxidants, may be an effective treatment for improving vascular function.” It could also decrease the risk of cardiovascular health issues and other common clinical disorders of ageing, including cognitive dysfunction and chronic kidney health issues, they added. Amanda Barrell
Read more at oxfordbiotherapeutics.com
REFERENCE: ALEHAGEN, URBAN, ET AL. "STILL REDUCED CARDIOVASCULAR MORTALITY 12 YEARS AFTER SUPPLEMENTATION WITH SELENIUM AND COENZYME Q10 FOR FOUR YEARS: A VALIDATION OF PREVIOUS 10-YEAR FOLLOW-UP RESULTS OF A PROSPECTIVE RANDOMIZED DOUBLE-BLIND PLACEBO-CONTROLLED TRIAL IN ELDERLY."PLOS ONE13.4 (2018): E0193120. AVAILABLE AT: HTTPS://WWW.NCBI.NLM.NIH.GOV/PMC/ARTICLES/PMC5894963/ [ACCESSED 29 AUGUST 2018]
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
THIS PAGE HAS BEEN FUNDED BY NOVARTIS WHO REVIEWED FOR MEDICAL ACCURACY. ALL EDITORIAL CONTROL REMAINS WITH MEDIAPLANET
Access to heart failure services should be fair and equitable
Living positively with heart failure
Every patient should have access to sufficiently resourced and well funded heart failure services and specialists says one MP. The only way to ensure this happens is to invest more money in this vital area of healthcare.
In 2016, Daniel suffered severe heart failure secondary to dilated cardiomyopathy. Peer support groups have helped him get back on his feet. “Heart failure is not a death sentence,” he says.
Virendra Sharma Labour MP, Ealing Southall
Daniel Smith Patient Educator, Pumping Marvellous
t started in August 2012. I was 36 years old and an electrician. I kept myself ﬁt with boxing, running and football, so I knew something wasn’t right when I got out of breath just moving my tool box. The doctor kept saying it was stress and gave me medication, but it steadily got worse from there. I was rushed into casualty three times with what I thought were heart attacks (but were severe panic attacks) but the ECGs didn’t ﬁnd anything. Just a few days, later I collapsed at my mum’s house with multiple organ failure, dilated cardiomyopathy and quite severe heart failure caused by a virus. Multiple blood tests, a CAT scan and a right heart catheter helped diagnose my condition. I was put on the transplant list. I was in complete shock. Over the next three weeks, the excellent multidisciplinary team stabilised my condition and I was sent home. After three years’ waiting, new medication took me off the transplant list; hopefully for good.
Patients need to know that heart failure is not a death sentence. You can lead a fairly normal life if you are efficiently diagnosed and then given the right information and tools to understand your condition. Peer support groups have been the best thing for me. I thought I was alone, but finding people my own age to ask questions helped me the most. It takes more than one conversation to understand what you are going to be living with. I’m still learning, so that support is invaluable. It’s a very common story in our closed group that GPs too often misdiagnose heart failure in younger people – with serious consequences. We advocate a simple blood test, which is a great tool for diagnosis of heart failure. Not everywhere is set up to do the test but it could give people a second shot at life. For me it’s now about spending as much time possible with my sons – they’re the biggest thing in my life. Alex van den Broek
ore investment is needed in heart failure services if they are to be ﬁt for purpose in 21st century Britain, says Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall. We should never forget that, while heart failure and cardiac diseases cost the NHS billions every year, there is a human cost, too, on individuals, families, carers and friends. “If heart failure services and resources are not available, then people who need them are going to suffer,” says Sharma.
Heart failure services are being reduced in some areas of the country Sharma says the public are concerned that, in some areas, heart failure services are either being reduced or closed down completely and looks at his own constituency as a barometer of what is happening across the country. “Generally, Ealing has been a good hospital,” he says. “But in the last two years, it’s been deteriorating and people are not getting the services they expect. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is different from any other hospital.”
Equitable access to services and specialists Sharma says that, thanks to the meetings that parliamentarians and policy-makers have with organisations working in the cardiac ﬁeld, there’s a high level of awareness — across the House — about the importance of heart failure services. Sadly, however, this understanding is not yet ﬁltering through into the health system. For instance, Sharma says that everyone should have access to heart specialists, and also BNP testing — a blood test which could speed up diagnosis and save the NHS money. Yet not everyone does. It’s a postcode lottery, in other words. “I personally believe there should be more investment in heart failure and cardiac services,” he says. “Ultimately, we need more training for local GPs, more nurses, and more staff who can assist people when they need it. We also need to better inform the public so that they are aware of symptoms, and encourage them to take part in activities that can reduce their risk of heart failure.” Tony Greenway
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
THIS PAGE HAS BEEN FUNDED BY NOVARTIS WHO REVIEWED FOR MEDICAL ACCURACY. ALL EDITORIAL CONTROL REMAINS WITH MEDIAPLANET
Detecting heart failure early saves lives Dr Paul Kalra Chairman, British Society for Heart Failure
Almost one million people in the UK have heart failure. Yet lack of recognition compounded by inequitable access to crucial tests means that many patients suffer because of late diagnosis. This results in poor quality of life, frequent and prolonged hospitalisation and early risk of death.
arly diagnosis could save lives – but huge numbers of people living with the condition are undiagnosed, and untreated. Dr Paul Kalra, Chairman of the British Society for Heart Failure (BSH), said the condition’s “major and increasing burden on the NHS could be lessened if patients were diagnosed and treated earlier”. “Quite simply, if people with suspected heart failure are identiﬁed, referred to specialist services and put on the right treatment, they live longer and better,” said Dr Kalra, Consultant Cardiologist at Portsmouth NHS Trust.
primarily related to heart failure. A staggering 9% (almost 1 in 10) of those die from the condition during the hospital admission. Securing routine access to a simple blood test, which has been recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) initially in 2010 and then again this month, can tell GPs if someone needs to be referred to specialist heart failure services. A negative test means they don’t have heart failure. Once there, they can be formally diagnosed, treatment initiated and placed under the care of a multidisciplinary team of specialist doctors, nurses and other experts.
Heart failure cases are increasing
Depending on where you live, you may have restricted access to tests
He added that, between 2002 and 2014, the total number of cases had increased by almost a quarter (23%). In England and Wales alone, there are over 80,000 emergency hospital admissions a year that are
The commissioners who decide which tests and services are provided in each area do not always prioritise heart failure, due to a lack of appreciation around the burden
SUBARACHNOID VESSELS SOURCE: BHF SITE, MATT MACGREGOR SHARP, PHD STUDENT
and importance of heart failure, amongst other priorities. This means the NT-proBNP and B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) blood tests, are not available in many parts of the country. Dr Kalra has called on the healthcare community and patient groups to unite to demand fair, equal and early diagnosis. “The number of new cases per year has increased to 190,000. That’s similar to the four most common forms of cancer put together. If we had friends or relatives with cancer, we would want them to be seen urgently by cancer specialists,” he said. “We would want to make sure the diagnosis was 100% accurate and that all the treatment options were explained and understood. Heart failure needs to be given the same priority.”
Heart failure is not ‘just part of getting older’ Part of the problem is a lack of
awareness and understanding among the public and healthcare professionals alike, he said. “Because the average age to develop heart failure is late 70s, many people accept or explain the symptoms as part of getting older,” he noted. “Older people are more likely to be living with other health conditions, such as COPD, high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of heart failure, which include shortness of breath and fatigue, are often attributed to these conditions.” The BSH is working with other professional and patient organisations to drive awareness of the condition as well as the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the blood (BNP/NTproBNP) tests.
health service as well as on a personal level to the individual patient and their families,” he said, adding that tests and treatments were relatively cheap in comparison. “We all need to be sending that message to the commissioners who set the healthcare priorities in their area.” In the meantime, Dr Kalra has a simple message: “Think heart failure and help improve lives. If anyone who is not known to have heart failure presents with swollen ankles, shortness of breath or fatigue, heart failure needs to be at the forefront of your mind, whether you are a patient or healthcare provider.vAccess to specialist services saves lives.” Amanda Barrell
If we can treat the condition early, we can save NHS time and money “The average length of hospital stay for patients with heart failure is around 10 days. That’s a huge cost for the
Find more at thelancet.com/journals/ lancet/article/PIIS01406736(17)32520-5/fulltext
REFERENCES: 1. CONRAD, N., JUDGE, A., TRAN, J., MOHSENI, H., HEDGECOTT, D., CRESPILLO, A.P., ALLISON, M., HEMINGWAY, H., CLELAND, J.G., MCMURRAY, J.J. AND RAHIMI, K., 2018. TEMPORAL TRENDS AND PATTERNS IN HEART FAILURE INCIDENCE: A POPULATION-BASED STUDY OF 4 MILLION INDIVIDUALS. THE LANCET, 391(10120), PP.572-580. AVAILABLE AT: HTTPS://WWW.THELANCET.COM/JOURNALS/LANCET/ARTICLE/PIIS0140-6736(17)32520-5/FULLTEXT 2. NATIONAL HEART FAILURE AUDIT
COR18-C010 Sept 2018
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
Heart failure nurses improve lives and save money Nick Hartshorne-Evans CEO, Founder, and Patient Advocate, Pumping Marvellous Foundation Charity
We know specialist nurses improve the lives of people with heart failure and save the NHS money, but we need to preserve and expand their services. Heart failure patients value these specialist nurses, but we may have to fight to keep them.
here are 920,000 people living with heart failure in the UK. Specialist nurses who make a vital difference to the lives of heart failure patients are under threat. “We speak to thousands of heart failure patients annually and they say that the one person they cannot do without is their Heart Failure Specialist Nurse,” says Nick Hartshorne-Evans, patient advocate and founder of the Pumping Marvellous Foundation, the UK’s patient-led heart failure charity. A diagnosis of heart failure – where the heart fails to pump efficiently, depriving the body of oxygen and nutrients – means learning a new way of life. Specialist nurses coach patients and their families to live with the condition as well as they possibly can.
Between 30% – 40% of people diagnosed with heart failure die within a year, but swift diagnosis and referral to a specialist nurse may improve the prognosis for individual patients As well as helping patients manage the condition, the nurses can make referrals to other members of the medical team and signpost to external organisations such as Citizens’ Advice. “Symptoms include breathlessness, extreme fatigue and ﬂuid overload, which can mean some patients lose their jobs and homes. Nurses can help,” says Hartshorne-Evans. Specialist nursing care also prevents hospital admissions Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalisation in over-65s in the UK. With an average hospital stay of ten days, heart failure is responsible for more bed days than any other condition. On average, in-patients cost £400 a day. Hartshorne-Evans says, “Heart failure nurses who are able to prescribe can adjust levels of medications to suit changes in the patient’s symptoms. These specialist nurses can also give early warning of problems, so fewer patients may require hospitalisation.” However, Hartshorne-Evans says, “It is becoming apparent that Heart Failure Specialist Nursing is at risk. There are examples of where areas are losing services and nurses are not being replaced.” Moreover, the availability of heart failure nurses – especially those with the power to prescribe – is patchy. Some areas have no community heart failure nurses at all, including one city of 700,000 people. “We need to see equity in provisioning and an increase in the availability of community services, where nurses work out of local clinics and can visit patients’ homes. Heart failure nurses are the ﬁrst port of call for their patients. Without them, doctors’ surgeries would be overrun, and expensive hospital stays would soar.” “More specialist nurses, with the capacity to prescribe, would improve patients’ lives and save the NHS money. You wouldn’t deny services to a person with cancer; nor should you with heart failure.” Linda Whitney Read more at healthawareness.co.uk
CARDIAC COLLAGEN SOURCE: BHF SITE, DR NEIL DUFTON, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON
Fainting could be a sign of a fatal condition Fainting or palpitations may be signs of an underlying heart rhythm disorder that could potentially prove fatal. Here’s how to check whether you are at risk. Trudie C A Lobban MBE FRCP Edin – Founder & CEO, STARS / Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association
ainting or palpitations may be nothing to worry about, but they can also be early warnings of a potentially fatal condition. Both commonly occur in people with cardiac arrhythmias - the medical term for an irregular heart rhythm. Heart rhythm disorders are Britain’s biggest killer. There are four main types of arrhythmias. They are common, potentially serious, and often unsuspected. Fainting (syncope) resulting from an insufficient blood supply to the brain, can be a symptom of the most common arrhythmia - atrial ﬁbrillation (AF), an irregular and/or too-rapid heart rhythm. This is means blood does not ﬂow through the body properly, which may result in blood clots. If a clot forms in the heart and travels to the brain it can cause a potentially fatal AFrelated stroke. “AF causes 12,000 debilitating and fatal AFrelated strokes in the UK each year. These are more debilitating and more likely to be fatal than most other strokes. Many could be avoided if AF is diagnosed and appropriate anticoagulation therapy prescribed,” says Trudie C A Lobban MBE FRCP Edin, Founder and Chief Executive of the charities STARS, Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association. “AF affects one in four of us over the age of 40, and the symptoms are often palpitations or a faint, which are all too often overlooked,” she adds. “Anyone of any age experiencing a faint could have an underlying arrhythmia, which could result in an AF-related stroke.”
Aspirin proven ineffective in preventing AF-related strokes Anticoagulants, which help prevent clots forming therefore, reducing the risk of an AF-related stroke, have long been used to treat AF, but many people have AF unknowingly, and so suffer strokes that may have been avoided. Lobban points out that aspirin, commonly taken as a stroke-preventative, has been proven ineffective in preventing AF-related strokes. The good news is that a simple pulse check will indicate the possibility of AF before it results in a potentially fatal AF-related stroke. However, the UK
currently has no national screening programme of pulse checks or heart rhythm screening, so you need to know how to do it yourself. Lobban says, “Checking your pulse will indicate your heart rhythm as well as your heart rate - how often the heart beats - but also the regularity of the rhythm, which is important in diagnosing AF.”
How to take your own pulse To get your baseline pulse and normal heart rhythm, take your resting pulse when you wake in the morning and before bed, for seven days. To assess your resting pulse rate in your wrist, sit down for ﬁve minutes beforehand. Remember that any stimulants (such as caffeine or nicotine) taken before the reading will affect the rate. You will need a watch or clock with a second hand. Hold your left or right hand out with your palm facing up and your elbow slightly bent. With your other hand, place your index and middle ﬁngers on your wrist, at the base of your thumb. Your ﬁngers should sit between the bone on the edge of your wrist and the stringy tendon attached to your thumb. You may need to move your ﬁngers around to ﬁnd the pulse. Keep ﬁrm pressure on your wrist with your ﬁngers in order to feel your pulse. Count for 30 seconds, and multiply by two to get your heart rate in beats per minute. If your heart rhythm is irregular, count for one minute and do not multiply. Record the results. A heart rate of 60 to 100 beats a minute is normal, but also pay attention to the rhythm. If it is irregular - anything other than a steady boom, boom, boom - consult your doctor. Everyone is different, so regular pulse checks will help you understand what is normal for you, and detect changes warranting investigation. Linda Whitney
Read more at knowyourpulse.org
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
Reducing arrhythmia key to tackling UK stroke endemic
Dr Jonathan Clague Consultant Cardiologist, Royal Brompton & Hareﬁeld Hospitals Specialist Care
Heart rhythm problems affect millions in the UK. But what can be done to prevent them from occurring? Dr Jonathan Clague suggests that people need to know about the damaging effect of alcohol on cardiovascular health.
t some stage in everyone’s life, there’s been that moment where the heart has done something unexpected. The smallest jump or ﬂutter can serve as a reminder that the heart is there, beating away and keeping us going. Regular or even semi-regular episodes of palpitations, fatigue or unusual shortness of breath, however, could hint at a more serious cardiac condition that may require intervention. Arrhythmia is where the heart’s rhythm has fallen out of sync; beating either too fast or too slow. Of these conditions, atrial ﬁbrillation is by far the most common, affecting the top chambers of the heart known as the atria. The chaotic, inefficient beating of the heart that results from atrial ﬁbrillation (AF) can contribute to
further and more serious risks if left undiagnosed or untreated. AF is now a leading cause of strokes in the UK. This is because the heart might not empty itself of blood at each beat, and a clot can form in the blood left behind, which can travel in the blood stream to the brain and block the blood ﬂow.
AF is more common in men than women Dr Jonathan Clague, consultant cardiologist at Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Specialist Care, believes that it’s important to prevent AF from developing in the ﬁrst place. It is more common in men than in women, with alcohol consumption the single largest contributory factor in developing the condition. “A typical person who develops paroxysmal atrial fibrillation
[occurring every now and again] is a man in his 40s or 50s who exercises excessively and drinks a little too much.” “It’s a complete misconception that you can offset your alcohol consumption by pushing your body through extreme exercise. It’s exactly the wrong thing to do.” “The latest guidance on alcohol consumption for women and men is that it’s safest not to drink more than 14 units a week.”
Diagnosing the problem If someone is concerned about their heart rhythm, there are novel and innovative ways to diagnose and treat it. If the problem is persistent, with the heart constantly out of rhythm, it’s easy to diagnose with an electrocardiogram (ECG). However, infrequent symptoms
Peer support from the heart of the community
may require testing with a holter monitor – a small ECG machine worn for several days – to ﬁnd out if the cause is AF.
Correcting AF by destroying faulty tissues in the heart Once diagnosed, specialist expertise is needed to correct the heart’s rhythm. Dr Clague explains: “Increasingly, we’re using a technique called ablation to treat AF. Specially-trained cardiologists insert catheters into the body and destroy small areas inside the upper part of the heart, to stop the abnormal impulses occurring.” It is a challenging procedure, which carries some risks of its own, but amazingly it can be completed without open heart surgery. Instead, the heart is reached through thin, ﬂexible tubes called catheters, which are typically placed into a vein that leads from the groin to the heart.
support others like them and are role models for young people struggling with their condition. We know how vital it is for someone who has just been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy or myocarditis to be able to talk in conﬁdence about the impact a diagnosis has on them and about their anxieties for the future. That is why we are now working with a growing number of cardiac clinics to make sure that one of our peer support volunteers are on hand when they are needed most. Our peer support volunteers all have personal experiences of cardiomyopathy so can empathise, reassure and normalise what can be incorrectly assumed a death sentence by someone just told they have cardiomyopathy. Cardiologists unfortunately do not have the time to answer all the questions
someone newly diagnosed might have and generally don’t have the ﬁrst person perspective that a patient needs for congruent understanding. We are able to ﬁll that gap in provision.
The solution? Cardiomyopathy UK is the leading specialist charity for anyone affected by the heart muscle diseases cardiomyopathy and myocarditis. By listening to and working closely with all stakeholders we can be conﬁdent that our work saves lives, improves medical treatment and helps people with the condition to live a full a life as possible. Being at the heart of our community means that we are able to bring together clinical experts, researchers, policy makers, health service providers and people with real experience of living with cardiomyopathy and myocarditis.
The public must be aware of a common cause Increased awareness of arrhythmia is a priority, but its common causes must also be understood and taken seriously. Dr Clague believes this is vital to tackling AF and reducing stroke cases in the UK. “There can be no excuse for a smoker to say, ‘I didn’t know that smoking was harmful’. People know that alcohol can cause liver damage and mental problems, but they don’t know that it also can cause heart problems.” James Alder
Read more at rbhh-specialistcare.co.uk/ heart-screening
Joel Rose Chief Executive Ofﬁcer, Cardiomyopathy UK
A diagnosis of cardiomyopathy or myocarditis can make people feel isolated and misunderstood. The provision of timely, appropriate and reciprocal peer support can help those diagnosed to feel better informed and more empowered to manage their condition. eople living with cardiomyopathy tell us that being able to speak to a trained peer support volunteer at point of diagnosis and beyond makes a tangible, positive impact upon their emotional and psychosocial well-being. This allows people to live happier, more meaningful lives knowing that they are not the only one with a condition that many people outside the cardiac arena have never heard of. With the help of our volunteer team and support from The Big Lottery Fund we have significantly grown our network of support groups throughout the UK. This means that people can connect with others living locally and share their experiences. Our youth panel, a team of inspiring young people with personal experience of cardiomyopathy, work to
We believe that the challenges presented by cardiomyopathy and myocarditis can only be solved by this collaborative approach. We also believe in the power of peer support; people affected by the condition helping each other. Over the last 30 years, Cardiomyopathy UK has shown how it is committed to empowering the cardiomyopathy community. Whether it’s through our specialist helpline, support groups, in clinic service or via our website, information resources and closed Facebook groups, we are always at the core of the cardiomyopathy community.
5 ways our work helps • Enabling people to cope
with cardiomyopathy and myocarditis day to day
• Reassuring from point of diagnosis
• Helping clinicians to diagnose
and treat cardiomyopathy and myocarditis promptly
• Raising awareness of the conditions amongst the public
• Supporting research to develop better treatments
Read more at cardiomyopathy.org
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
About Jan Kovac
TAVI is quite a unique intervention. It adds life to years as much as years to life. Very few medical interventions can do that
Heart valve disease recovery slashed from months to days Wil Woan CEO, Heart Valve Voice
IMAGE: UHL BHS TRUST
In 2007, Jan led the team who successfully carried out the ﬁrst British percutaneous aortic valve intervention (now known as the TAVI procedure, acronym coined by the team). This disruptive technology since became standard of therapy for hundreds of thousands of patients around the world. He continues to innovate and also acts as the European Society of Cardiology Chair Elect for the ESC Stroke Council and the ESC Valve Council Nucleus Board Member.
Professor Jan Kovac MUDr, FACC, FESC, FRCP, Professor of Interventional Cardiology, and National NHS Innovator, 2009.
IMAGE: CEREMONY NHS ENGLAND
Continuing advances in heart valve disease therapy offer potential to allow the UK’s growing senior population look forward to positive ageing. A procedure that reduces heart valve disease recovery time to just days, has been carried out by heart specialists at the South Tees Hospital for the first time.
il Woan, Chief Executive of patient advocacy group, Heart Valve Voice, says: “This is a very promising time for people with heart valve disease. That hospitals in the UK are doing transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) as a day case is pretty amazing and very positive for many patients.” Minimally-invasive methods as an alternative to open-heart surgery for some patients Rather than opening the chest to ﬁt a replacement heart valve, TAVI is a minimally-invasive method for intermediate and high-risk patients, in which interventional cardiologists insert the new valve into the body through the groin using a catheter. The South Tees team have carried out more than 500 TAVIs in the last 11 years. The procedure normally takes around 40 minutes. However, the intervention is not as widely adopted as in many other European countries because of concerns with the initial cost. Life expectancy, post-implant, is returned to normal Woan said: “This is a condition that can be easily treated. Once you have
treatment for heart valve disease, your life expectancy often goes back to normal and your quality of life can improve dramatically. But we do not treat enough people. France is carrying out twice as many of these procedures as us.” These calculations do not consider the subsequent savings that can be made as a result of shorter hospitalisations, reductions in social care and the ability of patients to contribute to caring for family members. “One patient provided full-time care for her 93-year-old mother with dementia. When she had open heart surgery, her mum had to go into a care home while she (the patient) had to take the time to recover. “If she’d had a TAVI, or other minimal invasive treatment, it could have been quite a different ball game,” says Woan, whose charity campaigns for the importance of patient choice in the treatment of heart valve disease.
age, and with our ageing population set to double by 2060, we are facing an epidemic. Fatigue and breathlessness might not just be symptoms of ageing “The symptoms are breathlessness, tiredness, dizziness and fatigue on exertion. If you are around 65 or so years old, you might think it’s just the natural ageing process. But when severe heart valve disease is diagnosed, the prognosis is a 50/50 chance of surviving two years without treatment.” A survey of 1,600 people in the UK found nearly 80% had never heard of heart valve disease. The same proportion said their GP had never listened to their heart through a stethoscope: the standard screening test for heart valve disease. Empowering patients to seek help while encouraging health services to prepare is the answer, says Woan. Amanda Barrell
Recovery time and unknown costs are dramatically reduced There is a lack of data to support TAVI’s cost effectiveness, and Woan’s team is working to bring that together. In the meantime, the charity believes that raising awareness of the treatment option, and heart valve disease in general, could save lives. Woan says: “This disease is most commonly linked to
Find out more at heartvalvevoice.com @HeartValveVoice
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
New technology gives hope to people with heart valve disease Dr Dougie Muir Consultant Cardiologist, James Cook University Hospital
New developments in Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) have revolutionised the treatment of heart valve disease, saving more lives and reducing NHS costs.
here are people with heart valve disease who travel hundreds of miles to speak with Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Dr Douglas Muir. That’s because Dr Muir and his hospital, the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, are specialists in a procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI). In the procedure, people with a damaged heart valve receive a replacement valve, which is put in place using a tube the size of your little ﬁnger. The tube, with a collapsible ‘crimped’ replacement valve inside, is usually inserted under local anaesthetic into an artery running from the groin. Dr Muir explains: “A bit like putting a ship in a bottle”. Some patients notice a difference immediately People receiving the procedure transform from being so breathless that they can’t even walk across the room to planning coast-to-coast walks. Dr Muir says he’s had patients who say they feel completely different as soon as they sit up in bed. AS can kill in under two years Aortic Stenosis (AS) is one of the most common heart conditions affecting older people. Considered age-related ‘wear and tear’, the condition affects around one in ten 80-year-olds and is characterised by a narrowing of the heart valve. Left untreated, severe AS can kill within one to two years. TAVI was introduced at the James Cook Hospital in 2009 and today, around one in ﬁve people with AS will be offered the procedure. Traditionally only those with the most severely damaged valves and at such high-risk as to be inoperable were given TAVI. However, as understanding of the procedure, and the technology, have improved, people who are lower surgical risk also now receive TAVI, compared to the past where only inoperable patients were eligible. It’s seen as a much less risky alternative to open heart surgery, which requires the chest to be cut open, full anaesthetic and the support of a surgical team and expensive stand-by equipment. Hospital stay reduced from a week to a day TAVI has also reduced the average post-operative hospital stay from a week to one day. “The local anaesthetic makes the big difference to recovery,” Dr Muir says. Within two to three hours the patient can be up in bed, and around 70% go home the next day. Complications and post-operative pain are also much improved. Compared to traditional surgical approaches to this condition, TAVI has a higher up-front cost, but this is offset when you take into consideration the patient’s length of stay in hospital and use of resources, Dr Muir believes. He describes TAVI as “a win-win solution for everyone.” Read more at healthawareness.co.uk
“Why I’d recommend listening to the hearts of older people” After the usually active Brenda Walker began experiencing breathing problems, she was diagnosed with heart valve disease — a condition that was simply corrected with a TAVI procedure.
x-head teacher, ex-senior lecturer and publisher Brenda Walker, 84, has been extremely active all her life. “I always have to be doing something,” she admits. A keen gardener and lover of the arts, she still teaches English occasionally and loves visiting her children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren who live in various places around the world, including Canada, Norway and France. When she was 75 – an age when most people are taking things easy – Brenda started a doctorate on the new dynamics of ageing. “I’d been working on my PhD for a while when I suddenly found it difficult to breathe, climb stairs or walk any distance,” remembers Brenda. “My ankles were swollen, too.” Alarmed, she visited her GP, but was told her symptoms didn’t indicate a heart problem. Taking the less-invasive TAVI option Not content with this, and with her breathing worsening, Brenda went to a consultant who diagnosed her with aortic stenosis, or heart valve disease — a condition that affects the ﬂow of blood through the heart and is potentially fatal. “The consultant listened to my heart with a stethoscope — whereas the GP hadn’t,” says Brenda. “That made all the difference and I was immediately sent to hospital for various tests. “I was told that I was a high-risk patient and would be a candidate for
a newer procedure called TAVI., short for Transcatheter aortic valve implantation. When they explained how the procedure worked and that is was less-invasive and would lead to a quicker recovery, I was happy to agree to it.” With this procedure, an artiﬁcial replacement valve Brenda Walker is inserted into the Patient heart using a balloon catheter, either via the main artery in the groin or via a small incision on the side says Brenda, who finished her of the chest. Brenda was also advised PhD ﬁve years ago, has since taken that if she did nothing, she could correspondence courses with a only expect to live for another two- local horticultural college, joined a and-a-half years. swimming club and recently taught “I didn’t really want surgery,” a wellbeing movement class with 14 says Brenda. “So I in a way I was people in the local village hall. She’s glad that I had the opportunity to also been working on the design of have TAVI, which the surgical team her garden and is looking forward carefully explained to me with the to a trip to Prague. “I still think it’s use of diagrams. I was desperate amazing that I can almost run up to ﬁnish my PhD and knew that steps now,” she says. “My partner, the big beneﬁt would be shorter David, who is 85, says: ‘She used to recovery time.” Brenda, now based in trail behind me. Now look at her!’” Somerset, had the procedure under Brenda’s advice to anyone general anaesthetic at Glenfield experiencing the same symptoms is Hospital in Leicester six weeks after to insist that their GP listens to their her initial diagnosis. heart with a stethoscope. “I thought my problems were just down to Fast recovery time and no ageing,” she says. “So I’d recommend symptoms getting advice from a specialist. And The results were miraculous, she says. don’t delay, because you never know. Her breathing problems stopped, she It might be the sign of a serious didn’t need medication of any kind problem that can be easily solved.” and her recovery time was almost Tony Greenway instantaneous.In fact,Brenda only spent two-and-a-half days in hospital — and a day after she arrived home, she took her children shopping. “I’ve had the valve for seven years, and I’m still very energetic,”
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
A new health crisis is looming Simon Gillespie Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation
Through research, we’ve made incredible progress in transforming survival rates for heart attack and stroke. But this progress means people’s experiences of living with heart and circulatory diseases today are very different to those cared for in the earliest days of the NHS.
hen the NHS was established in 1948, half of all deaths in the UK were caused by heart and circulatory diseases. Today, it’s reduced to a quarter – a testament to the power of research. However, we’ve seen the opposite trend in the number of patients visiting GP surgeries and hospitals suffering from multiple, long-term diseases. Vast improvements in treatments for heart and circulatory diseases mean people are living longer with a range of complex conditions, which current methods of care and treatment are struggling to deal with. This is, or should be, of grave concern.
How are heart and circulatory diseases connected with wider conditions? Our latest ﬁgures reveal that nine out of ten people living with longterm heart and circulatory diseases suffer from at least one or more further conditions, including stroke, dementia and high blood pressure. These diseases are usually connected. When your heart isn’t beating properly and your blood ﬂow is disrupted it can have a devastating affect all over your body. This has huge consequences. People with more than one illness are at greater risk of succumbing to physical disability, premature death and will also have a poorer quality of life. This, in turn, places huge strain on family and social support teams. In many cases, supporting loved ones can take over the lives of families and carers. Most people who suffer from multiple conditions are not aware of how one condition can lead to another.
Personalised treatment is a challenge for the NHS But more people living with multiple conditions is also an alarming challenge for the NHS, which is already under unprecedented strain. Like many health systems around the world, the NHS is designed to treat individual illnesses rather than individual patients. Not enough research has been undertaken
to have a heart attack compared with the general population. A heart attack survivor is twice as likely to have a stroke, and one in three stroke survivors will develop dementia within ﬁve years. Yet these conditions are often treated separately. This means different medical appointments, different doctors and different medicines. We are not treating the individual. The result is more people being hospitalised, longer hospital stays, and ultimately worse outcomes for patients.
People with more than one illness are at greater risk of succumbing to physical disability and premature death into how to treat different illnesses together or how we can innovate to provide personalised approaches to unique combinations of conditions. Nowhere is this truer than in the treatment of heart and circulatory diseases. A person with type 2 diabetes is more than twice as likely
We need to radically change our approach To effect such profound change we urgently need more research. Research that will help us identify conditions that tend to group together, and why. We also need to work out why some people appear more likely to suffer multiple conditions than others. Once we have identiﬁed those at risk, we need innovative ways of treating conditions together in ways that are personal to the individual.
But the NHS needs to play its part too. It needs a bold ambition to give personalised care to every patient and be committed to translating research into innovative changes in how healthcare is delivered. Patients with diabetes should have easy and immediate access to heart disease services. Mental health services should be more closely linked to heart attack clinics and rehabilitation programmes to better support people’s physical and psychological health and wellbeing. We don’t have the answers yet, but research is underway. Just like they did when the NHS was born through a bold idea, it’s time for scientists and clinicians to come together to overcome the biggest challenge we face in improving NHS care in the coming decades.
Find more at healthawarness.co.uk
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
This article was developed in collaboration with Actelion Pharmaceuticals UK who also provided funding. Contributors to this article did not receive payment for their involvement. IMAGE: GETTYIMAGES
Pulmonary arterial hypertension: a patient’s side of the story Julie Royle Patient
We need greater awareness of pulmonary arterial hypertension to improve patient support.
n her 53rd birthday, Julie Royle was told that she had stage three pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The words might not mean much to most people – but Julie remembers, “I walked out of the hospital feeling like a bomb had gone off in my life. People talk about cancer and heart disease, but no one talks about PAH.” PAH is extremely rare and there is no cure, so a diagnosis has lifechanging consequences for the patient and their family. By the time Julie was diagnosed, she already had an advanced case of the condition, which causes a narrowing of the blood vessels that lead from the heart to the lungs. As a keen jogger and ﬁtness instructor – Julie was extremely healthy with no underlying health complaints to indicate that anything was wrong. When she started experiencing breathlessness, her GP initially prescribed an inhaler. This did little to help and Julie found that she was getting more exhausted at work, where she was a secondary school cookery teacher. After several more trips to the GP, she was eventually sent for an echocardiogram, which was the first step towards her diagnosis. “For every second of every minute and every hour of my day, I focus on my inability to breathe normally. It’s exhausting.” I started having blackouts In one sense, it was a relief to ﬁnally receive a diagnosis and start treatment, but there is little anyone can do to prepare for the reality of living with PAH. “I started treatment and immediately felt better, but then I started to have blackouts,” says Julie.
DATE OF PREP: SEPTEMBER 2018 JOB BAG: NOP 18/0423E
Medical staff had no knowledge of my condition The horror of her ﬁrst blackout was further compounded by the fact that the medical staff treating Julie at her local accident and emergency unit had no knowledge of PAH at all. Julie felt vulnerable and isolated. “The specialist centres are just amazing and the support from the charity, PHA UK has been a lifeline, but the problem is that even people within the medical profession don’t know about it. I have to carry information around with me all the time,” continues Julie. Getting out of bed and walking is exhausting While Julie may not look physically unwell, her condition has transformed her life beyond recognition. She is unable to work and ﬁnds that simply getting out of bed and walking around the house can be as exhausting as a workout. Many patients require an intravenous line to be permanently attached to them, which delivers vital therapy on a 24-hour basis. This requires the constant attention of a PAH specialist nurse. Julie feels fortunate that, while she did have an IV line for three years, and could need one again, she has now been transferred onto a different therapy, which does not require one. I’m staying positive and I hope for a cure Julie is grateful to her specialist centre and team at Sheffield Royal Hallamshire for getting her to where she is now. “They are an extraordinary NHS team who treat us all like family,” says Julie. Julie is hopeful that one day there may be a cure, but in the meantime she is focused on living positively. “Living with PAH is a 24-hour, mental and physical challenge and my only advice to others is to listen to your body, to take all the advice and support from the specialist centres and from PHA UK and to try and stay positive,” she concludes. Kate Sharma
Patients with PAH need earlier diagnosis and access to medicines
Dr Luke Howard Consultant Pulmonologist, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
Patients living with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) need access to the full range of advanced treatments along with earlier recognition of symptoms and diagnosis.
round 6,500 people in the UK are affected by pulmonary hypertension, of which, approximately half live with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), which is caused by a narrowing of the blood vessels that lead from the heart to the lungs. As the heart is put under strain it can cause not only breathlessness, but blackouts and heart failure. “If untreated, the life expectancy of someone with PAH could be as little as three years. With treatment we can double or even triple the survival rates,” says Dr Luke Howard, Consultant Pulmonologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. “The problem is, the symptoms for PAH are very generic. Breathlessness, dizziness and swollen ankles are common to many conditions and we often ﬁnd that GPs and patients themselves think the symptoms are a result of asthma, natural ageing or being unfit rather than a lifethreatening cardiac illness.” Directing patients with breathlessness to secondary care could identify PAH Most people who are diagnosed with
PAH are in their 50s and 60s and the condition affects more women than men. Around 10% of cases are genetic, but it can also be associated with other conditions including scleroderma or lupus, and people who have been born with a heart defect may also develop the disease. “Ideally, I’d like better secondary care services, whereby patients with undiagnosed breathlessness have easy access to people who are thinking about the different reasons for breathlessness and can raise the suspicion of pulmonary hypertension early,” continues Howard. There are currently six specialist centres in England, one in Scotland and one in the Republic of Ireland, where patients suspected of having PAH are referred to receive a conﬁrmation of whether or not they have the condition. It’s relatively easy to suspect PAH via an echocardiogram, followed by the insertion of a catheter in an expert centre, to measure the blood pressure in the right side of the heart and lungs, but the challenge is getting patients referred quickly. PAH is not curable, but it is treatable While the condition is not curable, it is treatable. There is a range of PAH drugs available that relax the muscle walls and dilate the vessels to allow blood to ﬂow more freely. Relatively lowgrade cases can be treated with simple tablets, and more severe cases might require a catheter to be positioned underneath the skin to release
a 24-hour infusion of a drug into the veins. For patients at the later stages of PAH there is now also an oral medicine, which is available in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales but not in England. Howard says “access to the full range of available treatments is essential when dealing with a life-threatening condition like PAH. At the moment inequality of access exists in the UK, which is largely determined by which devolved nation you live in and what treatments have been made available there”. As the search for a cure continues, new treatments are being discovered all the time. “Research has exploded in the last 10–15 years. We are seeing the repurposing of drugs and we are developing drugs from scratch,” says Howard. “We also have more targeted research where you look at the mechanism of the disease, such as genetic reasons, to develop more targeted therapies.” Howard remains positive about the outlook for patients with PAH and believes to achieve the best possible health outcomes for those living with the condition, access to the full range of available treatments is essential, coupled with a swift and timely diagnosis. Kate Sharma Find more at healthawareness.co.uk
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
Q&A with cardiovascular expert: How overcoming heart failure is a team game Heart failure bestows a large burden on the UK NHS and any effective treatment needs to extend beyond just the remit of specialists. To see positive outcomes for heart failure patients, we need a more multi-disciplinary approach to care. Paul Forsyth Lead Pharmacist, Clinical Cardiology, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
Paul Forsyth, Lead Pharmacist for Clinical Cardiology in Primary Care for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, shares his views on why a multidisciplinary approach is essential to effectively treat patients with heart failure.
Q: Why is heart failure such a big concern? Heart failure is the most malignant form of heart disease and it affects around 1.5% of the population. It’s not only extremely prevalent, but when you look at how long people with the condition live, then the outcomes are comparable with forms of common cancer. However, the awareness about the severity of heart failure isn’t always there.
Q: Who leads care for heart failure patients? In the ﬁrst instance, a patient will be seen by a cardiologist and a heart failure nurse. These are the key roles within the specialist team and are not only vital to planning treatment, but also to exploring the root causes of the condition and whether there are any more complications
that need to be taken into consideration. By ensuring any treatment plans are put into place and implemented, the role of the heart failure nurse has been proven to be vital in reducing hospitalisation and improving mortality rates.
Q: Why is a multi-disciplinary approach needed to treat heart failure? While large aspects of care should be managed within the specialist team, heart failure is one of the top 10 reasons that people are admitted to hospital, so this is a condition that has implications for many different facets of healthcare. Specialists are there to be the drivers of treatment and care coordination, but without all the generalists backing us up, we are never going to win.
Q: What other specialists are involved? We also have dieticians and physiotherapists because we know that giving patients access to information about diet and exercise can help them in the long term. Heart failure and mental health problems often go hand-in-
hand as patients struggle through this journey, so a clinical psychologist may be involved too. Pharmacists can be involved in dispensing medicine but may also sit within the specialist team, ensuring that medicines are optimised according to individual patient need.
Q: What role do primary healthcare providers play? On a day-to-day basis, the GP is the primary caregiver, so it’s vital they know what the treatment plan is and can access the advice of the specialist team. However, there are also other professionals that a patient will see, including pharmacists in the community and general practice nurses. While they may not come up with the next steps of a treatment plan, these professionals are critical because they see the patients regularly and can pick up on any signiﬁcant changes in their health.
Q: How can patients help themselves? There is lots of self-management a patient can learn to take on to help themselves – and not just with regard to their diet and exercise. For example, one of the main symptoms of heart
failure is oedema, where a patient retains extra ﬂuid. We can educate patients that if they start to see their weight going up over a few days then they should get in touch with their specialist team.
Q: What can be done to encourage a team approach? At a UK level, there is a willingness to have a multi-disciplinary approach to treat not only heart failure, but other conditions. Everybody understands that with multi-morbidity and an ageing population, it’s important to have good knowledge of what every discipline brings to the table, so we can pick up the phone and talk to each other. In Scotland, we now have shared IT platforms for clinicians from different sectors to access. GPs need to be updated as they are the person that patients go to ﬁrst, but we also need to make sure that things like blood test results, discharge letters and the anticipatory care plans are on a shared platform where all key stakeholders can access them.
Read more at healthawareness.co.uk
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
How 10 minutes and a £25 test can indicate heart failure Professor Roy Gardner Consultant Cardiologist, Golden Jubilee National Hospital, Clydebank, UK; Deputy Chair – British Society For Heart Failure (BSH)
The treatment for heart failure has improved dramatically over the last 30 years, such that well-treated patients are living better and for longer. However, despite heart failure potentially affecting up to a million people in the UK, the diagnosis is often delayed with people frequently mislabelled as having asthma or other lung diseases before consideration is given to them having heart failure. The more widespread use of N-terminal pro B-type natriuretic peptide (NTproBNP) will help identify and treat patients with heart failure at an earlier stage. What is the NT-proBNP test and what is it used for? When the heart is stretched or under stress, it releases small proteins called natriuretic peptides. A high level of these proteins can indicate heart failure. 1: NICE NG106: CHRONIC HEART FAILURE IN ADULTS
NT-proBNP can be checked by a blood test that is sent to the lab, but it is also available as a ﬁnger prick test (‘point of care’) where the result is known in around 10 minutes at a cost of only around £251. A normal result virtually excludes heart failure in an untreated individual. NT-proBNP is the only natriuretic peptide recommended in the new National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) heart failure guidance1. When would you want to check a patient’s NTproBNP? NT-proBNP should be checked if a patient is suspected of having heart failure. A negative result [particularly if their ECG (electrocardiogram/heart tracing) is also normal] virtually excludes heart failure. A positive result requires further investigation (e.g. with a heart ultrasound [echocardiogram], and a review by a heart failure specialist if this scan is abnormal.
What is your current clinical practice when it comes to NT-proBNP? I look after patients with advanced heart failure, so most patients already have a diagnosis of heart failure when I see them. Our local heart failure service uses NT-proBNP. My doctoral thesis (2006) was on NTproBNP as a prognostic marker in advanced heart failure and this work furthered the evidence as to the very strong prognostic power this peptide holds – certainly the most powerful prognostic marker in heart failure. Low concentrations suggest a very good outlook, and high concentrations [and particularly those that fail to come down with treatment] reﬂect a poor outlook. In these instances, it can help identify which patients require supportive/palliative care or, for suitable patients, we can consider highly specialised strategies such as heart transplantation (where low donor number seriously limit this possibility) or a left ventricular assist device (LVAD: ‘artiﬁcial heart’).
Why do you monitor your patients NT-proBNP levels? To assess for the patient’s prognosis. Falling or low numbers are reassuring (for patients and their heart failure specialist!). If the NT-proBNP is rising, we need to ensure patients are on optimal doses of the correct heart failure therapy and are adhering to it. What does monitoring a patient’s NT-proBNP level allow you to do differently compared to if it were not available? Imaging (such as echocardiography) often has long waiting lists. Once the diagnosis of heart failure is established, I monitor NTproBNP as it is much cheaper and more readily available than performing serial echocardiograms, and much better at predicting the patient’s future. Avoiding unnecessary echocardiograms frees up this stretched resource for patients who need it most.
What do you think the impact will be of more widespread use of NT-proBNP in monitoring HF patients? Although the natriuretic peptides have been in international guidelines for well over a decade (BNP was discovered in 1988!), it has been very slow to be adopted throughout the UK. The treatment for heart failure has improved dramatically over the last 30 years, such that well-treated patients are living better and for longer. However, despite heart failure potentially affecting up to a million people in the UK, the diagnosis is often delayed with people frequently mislabelled as having asthma or other lung diseases before consideration is given to them having heart failure. The more widespread use of NTproBNP will help identify and treat patients with heart failure at an earlier stage.
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
Team GB cyclist’s heart condition hasn’t stopped him pushing for the top Andy Tennant freely admits that the promise of bacon butties was key to persuading him to get out on his bike as a youngster. But his fledgling career was almost halted in its tracks by an issue with his heart’s rhythm. The British Heart Foundation ambassador gives us his story of how one operation allowed him to fulfil his talent as a cyclist and reach the top of the sport in fewer than five years…
Q. When did you ﬁrst realise you loved cycling? A: “Cycling came onto my radar Andy Tennant Great Britain and Canyon Eisberg Professional Cyclist
quite late really. I was about 14 and used to swim pretty competitively, but a mate got me cycling and we’d go off-road trial biking. Before too long, I entered a race and managed to come last. The next day they held a ‘bacon butty run’ – a 25-mile café ride, both on and off-road with the promise of a hearty breakfast at the end. It was my love of food that got me into cycling! I’d make it to the café, then have to get pushed home as I was so exhausted.”
Q. How old were you when you found out you had a heart condition? A: It was around the same time
I was getting into cycling. “I was diagnosed with a heart condition called SVT (Supraventricular Tachycardia). I had an extra pathway to my heart, which would lead to my heart rate racing for hours at a time. My ﬁrst attack happened while I was playing basketball. I was a fat kid, but it was nothing to do with that!”
Q. What effect did Q. Did you Q. What advice your condition have understand what was would you give to on you growing up? happening to you? You young patients with A: “After the second attack, I were quite young! heart conditions? had an operation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. The surgeons A: “I don’t think I was that A: “I always try and apply logic to performed a procedure on my heart by going up through my groin with a special tube to ﬁnd the part of my heart that was causing the problem. They performed several ‘ablations’ – burning away the troublesome extra pathways that were causing my heart to go mad. I’m incredibly lucky to have only had two attacks.”
bothered! Mum and Dad didn’t seem that worried. I wasn’t lying on the ﬂoor feeling really ill; I’d just have loads of energy. I remember being really excited in the hospital because they’d make me toast all the time. Again, it came back to my stomach! Mum and Dad said the operation was the worst six hours of their lives, but it wasn’t too bad for me.”
any situation. With any bad news, it’s always emotion that takes over. You have to try and look at it logically and not let it affect your life. If you break it down, if you’re doing everything you can to either control symptoms or you’ve done everything you can via the medical route – that’s essentially all you can do. If you worry about the uncontrollable stuff, it’s just going to eat you up inside.” James Alder
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MEDIAPLANET
HeartFlow creates a patient-speciﬁc 3D digital-model of the coronary arteries for cardiologists.
Could this revolutionary diagnostic technique change the face of cardiac treatment? A new computer programme that creates a detailed 3D image of patients’ arteries looks set to revolutionise coronary heart disease treatment in the NHS. About Dr Peter Clarkson Dr Peter Clarkson Cardiology Lead, Frimley Health Trust for Heartﬂow
Dr Peter Clarkson is the Cardiology Lead Consultant at NHS Frimley Health Foundation Trust in Surrey. He holds private practicing privileges at the Surrey Cardiovascular Clinic, Guildford and Spire Clare Park Hospital in Crondall, Farnham. His interests include General Adult Cardiology, Coronary Intervention/Stenting, permanent pacemaker and Complex Device Therapy.
Q. How is coronary Q. So what happens Q. Are there Q. It all sounds Q.Why does Frimley heart disease to patients when diagnostic incredibly high tech have access to this traditionally their CT scans are techniques that are but how helpful is service while other diagnosed? inconclusive? not so invasive? it really? hospitals don’t? A: “If a patient is suffering from A: “If signiﬁcant coronary (heart A: “Yes. HeartFlow Analysis is a A: “Research, and our experience of A: “When the National Institute chest pain – and coronary heart disease (CHD) is suspected – they will usually be referred to a Rapid Action Chest Pain Clinic at their local hospital, where they can be seen quickly and assessed by a specialist team of nurses and doctors. One of the ﬁrst tests they will undergo is usually a CT scan of the heart to look for obvious narrowing and blockages in the coronary arteries. A CT scan can pinpoint healthy, free-flowing arteries and serious blockages very clearly. However, there is always a large number of cases where the arterial problems are subtler, and the cardiologist can’t be sure – looking at the patient’s scan – if there are dangerous blood ﬂow restrictions that require stent treatment or surgical intervention, or whether medication will be enough to control the condition.”
artery) narrowing is suspected, but not conﬁrmed after a CT scan, the next step is usually a ‘functional’ test, where the heart is put under stress – usually with medication – and then examined with ultrasound or radioactive tracer or, in many cases, an invasive angiogram. “Performed under local anaesthetic, an angiogram involves feeding a catheter into the heart through an artery in the wrist or groin under local anaesthetic. A special dye is then injected through the catheter into the coronary arteries. An x-ray will then highlight any blood vessels that are narrowed or blocked. This procedure can be performed as day surgery but, as with all surgical procedures, it can be uncomfortable and stressful for the patient and comes with obvious risks.”
new, non-invasive diagnostic tool that is designed to reduce the need for invasive, exploratory tests. It’s an incredibly sophisticated technology that combines the data from the patient’s initial CT scan through deep learning, highlytrained analysts and cutting edge cardiovascular research, to create a personalised, digital, 3D model of the patient’s coronary arteries. The programme can then pinpoint and colour code, vessel by vessel, the impact any narrowing or blockages are likely to be having on an individual patient’s blood ﬂow. The patient doesn’t need to have a special appointment for this procedure and does not undergo any additional risk by having this analysis done - we simply send the CT scans off to the lab in the US for assessment by secure transfer - and the results usually come back to us within just a few hours.”
using the technique at NHS Frimley Health Foundation Trust over the last six months has shown that this non-invasive diagnostic technique is extremely useful and has helped cut the number of patients going for invasive exploratory procedures by roughly two thirds. Because we can reveal arterial problems without invasive tests with this technology, we are now using angiograms more often as a precursor to surgery, piggy-backing them with surgical procedures such as putting in stents - so everything is done in one operation. This saves time and money for the hospital and significantly reduces stress, discomfort and risk for our patients.”
for Health Care Excellence (NICE) assessed this product last year - they were very impressed. But, despite the fact it has a huge amount of very creditable research behind it, it still has to be trialled very carefully by a few NHS hospitals before it can be rolled out nationwide. More than 20 NHS trusts are using this tool at the moment, and Frimley was one of the ﬁrst. We are carefully monitoring everything to see how successful it is, and exactly which type of patient can beneﬁt most from it.” Mandy Francis
Read more at heartflow.com/studyresults
This Mediaplanet campaign was originally launched alongside the Guardian, Sep 2018.