The fight against heart disease is making great strides thanks to lifestyle changes and important advances in treatments, according to Royal Free consultant cardiologist Dr Roby Rakhit.
Dr Rakhit outlined the latest innovations in cardiology during a talk this week to more than 100 people in the fourth Medicine for Members event in the hospital’s Sir William Wells Atrium.
Dr Rakhit, a senior clinician at the hospital who launched its 24-hour Heart Attack Centre, said there had been a 60-70 per cent reduction in heart attack deaths since 1970.
“This is largely due to lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation although advances in treatment have played an important part,” he said.
Dr Rakhit discussed some of the major developments in treating heart disease ranging from coronary angioplasty (when the cardiologist opens up a blocked artery by inflating a balloon and inserting a metal stent) and drug-eluting stents to new imaging techniques such as intravascular ultrasound imaging, biventricular pacing (a type of pacemaker) for heart failure and percutaneous aortic valve replacement (to treat narrowing of the aortic valve). He shared his experience of performing coronary angioplasty via the wrist rather than via the groin which is associated with a speedier recovery and fewer complications.
The hospital was also one of the first in the UK to launch a 24-hour angioplasty service for heart attack which now sees over 400 patients a year. Patients are admitted directly to the centre, bypassing A&E, which has meant a significant increase in how quickly they are treated.
Audit of the service has shown that 95 per cent of heart attack patients receive primary angioplasty within 90 minutes of arriving at the hospital making the Royal Free one of the top performing units in the UK for this service. Since its inception, primary angioplasty had more than halved the chance or dying from heart attack compared with the traditional “clot-busting” treatment that most patients in the UK still receive.
Dr Rakhit concluded by talking about the potential for stem cell therapy as a future treatment of heart disease to stimulate new growth of damaged or dead heart muscle.
Dr Rakhit dedicated the talk to his mother who was in the audience which also included some of his former and current patients. One audience member said: “The lecture was enjoyable, very well presented and extremely informative. I found it very touching that Dr Rakhit dedicated it to his mother. Thank you to the Royal Free for hosting such a worthwhile event.”
Notes to editors
1. For further information, contact Soraya Madell, on 020 7830 2963 or Soraya.firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Medicine for Members is the Royal Free’s bi-monthly event for members and the public, where guest speakers from the trust’s clinical teams talk about their own innovative work and advances in medicine. The next event will be held on Monday 19 April from 6.30pm in the hospital’s Sir William Wells Atrium and features a talk by Prof Stephen Powis on advances in organ transplantation. To book your free place, contact Jayne Walbridge on 020 7317 7535 or email email@example.com
3. The Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust’s services have been rated “excellent” for the third year running by the Care Quality Commission. We are renowned for our specialist services including liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, clinical neurosciences, renal, AIDS/HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, ENT surgery and audiological medicine, amyloidosis and scleroderma. We run a major accident and emergency service, all branches of surgery and medicine, a renal service serving the whole of north London, paediatrics, maternity services, care of elderly people, an adolescent psychiatric service and one of two high security infectious diseases units in the country. We are a leading haematology centre and a major neuroscience base with a network extending throughout north London and into the Home Counties. We have associated internationally recognised research and training programmes. For more information visit www.royalfree.nhs.uk We are a member of the academic health science partnership UCL Partners.