While the NIHR Cardiovascular Healthcare Technology Co-operative (HTC) is keen to improve the diagnosis and care of all cardiovascular diseases we have identified 5 focus areas where there is the greatest potential to transform the healthcare of patients. Each of our focus areas have a clinical and technical lead to provide expertise and support from both healthcare and research to develop the best cutting edge approach.
A disease where arteries, the vessels that take blood away from the heart, become lined with fatty substances (called plaque) such as cholesterol. This disease makes the arteries narrower, reducing the space available for blood to flow. This restricted blood flow can cause damage to organs. Also if the plaque lining the arteries ruptures there is a high risk of the plaque causing blood clots triggering a heart attack or stroke. Often atherosclerosis is symptomless and this makes it especially dangerous. Clinicians find that in the majority of cases atherosclerosis is diagnosed following a heart attack.
More information can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Atherosclerosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Cardiac arrhythmias occur when there is a problem with a person’s heart rate or heart rhythm. Sufferers of cardiac arrhythmia may find that there are periods during the day when their heart beats too slowly, too quickly or irregularly. The effect of arrhythmias can range from harmless to severe. For example, if the heart cannot pump the amount of blood the body needs then it can result in damage to the organs, including the heart and brain, heart failure or even a heart attack. For these reasons cardiac arrhythmias are investigated quickly. Arrhythmias can occur in patients of all ages, and often its occurrence has no direct trigger. Symptoms of cardiac arrhythmias can include palpitations, dizziness or fainting, breathlessness and/or chest pains.
More information can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthyhearts/Pages/Arrhythmias.aspx
This condition occurs when the heart is unable to pump sufficient amounts of blood around the body at the right pressure to fulfil the needs of the body. It can affect people of all ages though it is more common in older people. Heart failure usually occurs if the heart muscle has become too stiff (through age) or weak (through, for example, damage by a heart attack or blood clot). Conditions such as high blood pressure, heart valve disease and cardiac arrhythmias have been linked to the onset of heart failure. Common symptoms of heart failure include excessive tiredness, breathlessness and fluid retention and leg swelling.
More information can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Heart-failure/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Structural Heart Disease
A disease where there is an abnormality or defect in the structure of the heart or the blood vessels supplying the heart. This could be related to the valves in the heart, the walls of the heart or the chambers of the heart. These abnormalities/defects can exist from birth (called congenital heart defects) or can develop with age, illness or injury. The symptoms of structural heart disease depend upon the type and location of the abnormality. They can vary from leg cramps and kidney dysfunction to heart palpitations and stroke.
Heart disease is a major cause of serious illness in children. Often technologies used for its diagnosis and treatment have been originally developed for adult patients then slightly adapted to fit the unique requirements of children. Developing technologies designed to meet the needs of children from the beginning could bring improvements to the diagnostic and treatment capabilities in hospitals and make the technologies child and family friendly.
This paediatric theme aims to help develop bespoke technologies for children with cardiovascular disease. We will also improve engagement with those affected, from children to parents and carers, to increase participation and understanding of research and technology for children with cardiovascular disease.
More information can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Congenital-heart-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx