Harefield Hospital Heart Risk Clinic Launch

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to any disease that affects the cardiovascular system, principally heart and arteries of the brain, kidneys and limbs. Despite modern achievements of medicine and technology it remains the leading cause of deaths worldwide. Current statistics reveal that CVD causes 47% of all deaths in Europe and 40% in the EU. UK has achieved significant improvement and reduced the toll of death from heart attacks and strokes, but there is still further room for improvement, particularly in patients who are 65 years old and younger.

The causes of cardiovascular disease are diverse but atherosclerosis and hypertension are the most common. In addition a number of physiological and morphological changes related to age, immune system, sex and genetic build can also alter cardiovascular function and lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, even in healthy asymptomatic individuals. Diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle and poor diet have been proven to increase risk of CVD.

Although CVD usually affects older adults, the antecedents of cardiovascular disease, notably atherosclerosis, begin quite in early life and can be accelerated by subtle inflammatory process or hypertension. Hypertension usually causes no symptoms, but over the years it may do some damage to the blood vessels and put a strain on the heart.

There is therefore increased emphasis on preventing or slowing down progression of atherosclerosis by modifying risk factors, particularly in those with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Simple things like healthy eating, regular exercise, and avoidance of smoking tobacco and if necessary treatment with statins – medications to reduce the blood level of cholesterol could prevent heart attack, heart or renal failure, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

Dr Aigul Baltabaeva has led the group of doctors, technicians, specialist nurses and technician in developing a new service to meet the needs of local population. The new Heart Risk clinic at Harefield Hospital offers quick and reliable assessment of individual’s cardiovascular risk including blood tests to check cholesterol, sugar levels and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease as well as simple tests including ECG, body weight and fat composition. Those at increased risk of heart and circulatory system disease can undergo further testing taking advantage of state-of-art equipment available at National Cardio-thoracic Specialist Centre.

The initial assessment is provided by a comprehensive questionnaire designed by group of experts. It is simple and easy to fill using step by step approach. The questionnaire can be filled on-line at the comfort of home to provide us with essential information on the following:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Smoking history
  • Physical activity level
  • Diet
  • Family history of premature CAD and other CVD risk factors
  • Other useful additional information including possible symptoms

Based on the initial assessment we offer 2–tier service. Those at low risk will have 1-1.5 hour visit to hospital to have blood tests, BP measurement, ECG and calculation of body mass index, including body fat composition. If individual is at increased CV risk the results of questionnaire are reviewed by Cardiology Consultant, additional tests including urinalysis can be arranged prior face to face consultation. It might become necessary to carry out a more accurate assessment and classification of risk than conventional methods. Based on individual presentation there is a large choice of functional tests which are performed by high volume specialists:

  • Transthoracic echocardiography
  • Stress Echocardiography
  • Nuclear Stress Scintigraphy
  • Cardiac Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Stress Perfusion CMR
  • CT Calcium Scoring This technique is able to identify calcium deposits in the coronary arteries. In
  • CT Coronary angiography
  • Invasive Coronary angiography

By the end of the assessment each individual is provided by recommendations and treatment options tailored to the risk profile and all the necessary local follow up arrangement are put in place to provide continuity of care.