University of Leicester eBulletin

New Scoring System for Heart Patients

British Heart Foundation Press Release, July 2003

British Heart Foundation (BHF) researchers at the University of Leicester are planning to implement a new scoring system to help prioritise the 30,000 heart patients who need treatment with coronary angioplasty and stenting in the UK each year. The system will aim to predict each patient’s risk and long term outcome from the procedure and so help to determine waiting list priorities.

Coronary angioplasty is a non-surgical technique for treating coronary heart disease (CHD) in which the narrowing of the artery is crossed with a fine wire and a small balloon inflated at the site. A stent - a small, metallic scaffold device - is then used to hold open the narrowed blood vessel once the balloon has been removed. Despite the widely acknowledged success of stenting in treating people with CHD, there is currently no national system of assessment to indicate which patients would benefit most from the procedure.

The demand for stenting is expected to increase following its recommendation by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) for heart patients who need an angioplasty and the need to meet targets set by the Government’s National Service Framework (NSF) for CHD. Researchers hope this study will help healthcare professionals to review practice and ensure that patients who stand to benefit most from intervention receive timely and effective treatment.

The BHF is investing over £93,000 in the 18 month study which will be carried out in four phases - beginning with research to identify which assessment factors should be included in the scoring system. Once the criteria have been established, the system will be tested retrospectively in a large patient group and evaluated prospectively in a smaller patient population.

Dr Tony Gershlick, heading the research team at the University of Leicester comments:

“Following our research, we hope that this new scoring system can be implemented to help healthcare professionals improve the management of patients with coronary heart disease and ensure that those most in need receive treatment promptly. It will also help to determine if patients at higher risk eg older people should be treated in specific centres by healthcare professionals more experienced in this procedure.”

In the final stages of the study, the researchers will work with the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Leicester to ensure that the system is scientifically robust. If the system is successful, it will be made accessible to all healthcare professional directly via a national internet database.

Professor Sir Charles George, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation adds:

“The use of stents is one of the major breakthroughs in the treatment of patients with coronary heart disease and has greatly improved the success rates of angioplasty.

“We look forward to the results of this research into a new patient assessment system which should enable healthcare professionals to discuss the risks of the procedure and priorities with each patient and their relatives.”

The British Heart Foundation is a major national charity that plays a leading role in the fight against heart and circulatory disease, the UK’s biggest killer. It is the largest independent funder of heart research in this country. The Foundation also plays an important role in funding education, both of the public and of health professionals, and in providing life-saving cardiac equipment and support for rehabilitation and patient care.

For further information please contact Caroline Beswick on 020 7642 0284/07958 534 555 or call the BHF press office on 020 7487 7172.

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Last updated: July 2003
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