Using data to understand and treat cardiovascular disease

Dr Amit Kaura is a clinical research fellow at the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI), Imperial College London and lead researcher for the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Cardiovascular Health Informatics Collaborative

"Despite advances in cardiovascular disease, it remains a serious burden to society. It’s important that we use the wealth of data available across England from patients who’ve already entered the NHS system to personalise and tailor patient care. That means delivering care for patients not only according to what condition they have, but also taking into account age, gender, ethnicity and other considerations so that we can create a holistic picture to improve their prognosis.

"For example, when a patient comes to A&E with a suspected heart attack, caused by a blood clot or blockage within a coronary artery which supplies blood to the heart, we carry out a blood test called troponin, which is a marker of heart muscle damage. We can compare the results of this test with results from previous patients with a similar age, gender and ethnicity profile who have had a heart attack and use this data to help us to decide on the best course of action for treatment. This might be to carry out an angiogram, which is an invasive procedure to identify blockages in the coronary arteries, or simply to use medications alone. This ultimately improves the patient’s outcome.

"The COVID-19 pandemic brought together a number of NHS organisations, collaborating to create a rich data set of patients, who have previously had infection with SARS-CoV-2, to inform our treatment of others with the virus. We now plan to develop an even larger data set across a broad spectrum of ages, genders and ethnicities to deliver personalised care to all patients throughout the population, not just for COVID-19, but across all specialities and for all diseases. This will help to save lives in the future."