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Patients can get heart treatment without surgery

13 February 2020

Patients from Southend and Broomfield Hospitals played a key role in worldwide research to improve treatment for heart conditions. The research showed that people with stable coronary heart disease can be treated just as effectively with medication instead of invasive surgery.

The ISCHEMIA research study found that medical treatment is just as effective as invasive treatment such as angioplasty or bypass surgery for patients with significant coronary disease but stable symptoms of angina.  

Doctors from Mid and South Essex University Hospitals Group took part in one of the largest randomised trials, involving thousands of patients worldwide to compare the effectiveness of medication versus surgery for treating patients with stable symptoms of angina or coronary artery disease.

Of the 5,000 patients that took part, 539 were recruited in the UK, with 39 from Southend University Hospital and 40 from Broomfield Hospital. The trial started in 2014, with a follow up period of five years.

Dr Thuraia Nageh, Consultant Cardiologist and Cardiac Clinical Research Lead at Southend University Hospital said:

"This is really good news for our cardiac patients. Most patients would prefer not to have invasive surgical procedures and now we can reassure them that there is no need for us to rush into surgical treatment, but that we can wait and control their symptoms with medication alone."

"Of course, for those patients that cannot tolerate the medication or continue to have symptoms despite the tablets, the option of stents or bypass surgery is still a safe and feasible one."

John Robinson, patient said: "I was honoured to be approached by Dr Nageh who invited me to take part in the Ischemia Trial. Having experienced heart problems, I was unsure what to expect. Right from the very first meeting to the end of the trial the whole team have supported me every inch of the way especially when it became clear that the medication route was not working for me and surgical intervention was necessary. I always felt in very safe hands thanks to this dedicated team and my regular meetings with Swapna Kunhunny.  The whole experience has been one of interest and learning on my part as to how by using medication instead of invasive surgery may in the future be the way forward. I hope that the small part that I have played will go some way to helping future patients who suffer heart problems."

All of the patients in the randomised trial that received invasive surgery were treated at the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC) at Basildon Hospital with either stents or bypass surgery. The high standards and collaboration between the three Trusts were recognised by the trial co-ordinators with certificates of excellence issued to all of the principle investigators from Essex, Dr Thuraia Nageh, Dr Reto Gamma, Dr John Davies and Mr Inderpaul Birdi.