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News & Events

New diagnostic tool: HeartFlow

12/06/2018
Diagram of the heartflow machineOn December 5, 2018, Tufts Medical Center announced that it became the first health care facility in Boston to adopt the HeartFlow Analysis, a first-of-its-kind non-invasive technology to aid physicians in the diagnoses of coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common form of heart disease. 

CAD is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. CAD develops when the arteries leading to the heart narrow or become blocked, which may lead to a reduction in blood flow to the heart, causing chest pain, heart attacks and death. Despite being the most common form of heart disease, studies have shown there is a need to improve how CAD is evaluated and diagnosed. Many of the non-invasive tests available today have low accuracy rates in detecting CAD. 

“We use coronary artery CT angiography (cCTA), a non-invasive technology that allows us to see blockages in coronary arteries and better identify chest pain patients with coronary artery problems so we can avoid unnecessary coronary catheterization,” said E. Kent Yucel, MD, Radiologist-in-Chief at Tufts Medical Center. “However, cCTA has some significant limitations, particularly in accurately diagnosing whether blockages are clinically significant, especially if they are calcified. The HeartFlow Analysis integrates cutting edge fluid dynamic calculations with the cCTA images to help us determine whether the blockages are likely to result in a heart attack, thereby minimizing unnecessary coronary catheterization.” 

3D Color Code model of the heart flowThe HeartFlow Analysis takes data from a patient’s non-invasive cCTA scan and leverages deep learning to create a personalized, digital 3D model of the patient’s coronary arteries. It then uses powerful computer algorithms to simulate blood flow and assess the impact of blockages on blood flow to the heart. Within hours, the HeartFlow Analysis is provided to the patient’s physician via a secure web interface, and provides information on the extent of a patient’s arterial blockage and the impact the blockage has on blood flow to the heart. The HeartFlow Analysis has been used for nearly 20,000 patients with suspected heart disease. 

“The HeartFlow Analysis allows us to quickly and easily determine whether blockages are causing abnormal blood flow; in the past, this required an entirely separate type of testing, or assessment during an invasive angiogram,” said James Udelson, MD, Chief of the Division of Cardiology at Tufts Medical Center. “The ability to assess both the anatomy of blockages and the physiology of blood flow in one test is very efficient, and may help us prevent the need for an invasive procedure in many patients.” 

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About Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children
Tufts Medical Center is an exceptional, not-for-profit, 415-bed academic medical center that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and Floating Hospital for Children. Conveniently located in downtown Boston, the Medical Center is the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. The Medical Center features a level one trauma center with rooftop helipad, the largest heart transplant center in New England and a renowned research program, ranking among the top 10 percent of independent hospitals to receive federal research funding. A physician network of 1,800 New England Quality Care Alliance doctors represents our strong commitment to health in the community. Tufts Medical Center is a founding member of Wellforce, along with Circle Health and Hallmark Health. For more information, visit www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org.