Patient research needed for emerging cardiovascular technologies

Emerging technologies have the potential to improve care for patients with cardiovascular diseases but only when patient research is conducted, a new study has shown.

A report by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in collaboration with the Hamlyn Centre, Imperial College London shows that emerging technologies need concrete evidence if they are to be translated to clinical use.

The report sets out the current technologies for improving patient care via stenting embolisation and ablation, alongside emerging devices around imaging, implants and robotics.

In the last two decades, robotic steerable catheter technology has resulted in precision and stability, reduced radiation doses, improved comfort and access to twisted blood vessels. These technologies require a high level of manual skill, something of which can alter the natural bedside skills of the operator. The report asks for improved 3D navigation, integrated force feedback and improved ergonomics to address unmet clinical needs.

Around 7 million people live with a cardiovascular disease in the UK. It is one of the main causes of death and disability and costs the UK healthcare system £9 billion every year, according to the British Heart Foundaiton.

Dr John Pepper, national specialty lead for Cardiovascular Disease, for the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network, said:  “The potential to improve the quality of life for NHS patients through technology is huge, but it is only through research that we can begin to reap those rewards. Recent advances in robotics have shown their role in deploying endovascular devices, but current systems are expensive, take up too much room in theatre, and in many cases, clinicians require significant training to operate them. There is a real need for new systems that are smaller, smarter, more affordable and easier to use.

“Without relevant research, we will be kept in the dark as to the value and robustness of new technology, and an opportunity to improve the lives of patients could be lost.  When it comes to saving the NHS money, more research means more opportunity to make a dent in the healthcare cost of cardiovascular disease.”

Professor Guang-Zhong Yang CBE, Imperial College London, said: “Patient evidence is critical for any medical device to be adopted into clinical practice. There are currently very few studies on the long-term durability of implanted devices for sensing, functional restoration and drug delivery, partially due to the novelty of these devices. When you consider the range of new devices being developed, it is vital that more funding is directed to systematic clinical studies.”


Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via:

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