Lifesaving boost for heart patients

A lifesaving procedure for heart patients will be available at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital from 1 April after a successful bid for funding by our cardiac team.

The procedure involves the insertion of an electronic ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator), a device similar to a pacemaker that can recognise a life-threatening heart rhythm and ‘shock’ the heart back into action.

Around 40 patients per year are expected to benefit from this procedure, which will be carried out in the Angio Suite at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Nationally, around 3,000 ICDs are fitted each year but NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) guidelines now suggest that the number should be nearer to 100 per million of the population. The aim will be to increase this to 60 per million of the population in 2007 and 100 per million by 2008.

Each device costs £16,000, plus an annual cost for pacing and follow-up care.

In the last 30 years, pacemakers have revolutionised the treatment of patients with abnormal heart rhythms and NNUH has been at the forefront of this technology. Last year a total of 425 pacemakers were fitted at NNUH and consultant cardiologist Dr Tony Page wrote the guidelines for physiological pacing which were presented to the British Cardiac Society.

Until now, patients who are suitable for ICDs have had them implanted at Papworth Hospital but receive their follow-up care at NNUH.

Dr Leisa Freeman, clinical director for Cardiology, commented: “It’s fantastic that we can now provide this local service for local patients. We already have the expertise to carry out these implants and our cardiac physiologists are highly trained in pacing and ICD techniques. We are fortunate that consultant cardiologist Dr Ian Williams has joined us recently, with specific training in ICD implantation, to join with Dr Trevor Wistow and Dr Page in implementing the service.

“ICDs can literally save lives but they are not suitable for all patients with life-threatening heart conditions.”

News that NNUH has been successful in this bid for funding comes just weeks after the Trust was given the go-ahead for a phased programme of balloon angioplasty (to widen blocked arteries) – a service which will start in June 2006. Patients who would otherwise have this radiological procedure carried out at Papworth Hospital will in future be treated at NNUH.

Thursday 9th of March 2006 10:00:09 AM