Brothers at centre of pioneering heart trial in Penwortham

Dr Faheem and Dr Rameen Shakur trialling pioneering heart monitoring equipment at Penwortham St Mary's health centre.
Dr Faheem and Dr Rameen Shakur trialling pioneering heart monitoring equipment at Penwortham St Mary's health centre.
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Pioneering new medical technology which detects heart abnormalities is to be trialled in Preston.

The cutting edge new device will be trialled for the first time in the region by a Penwortham GP, whose brother was involved in inventing it.

Dr Faheem Shakur and Dr Alex Tan at Penwortham St Mary's health centre.

Dr Faheem Shakur and Dr Alex Tan at Penwortham St Mary's health centre.

Patients will be offered the wearable monitor at GP surgery, St Mary’s Health Centre in Cop Lane.

The device, Heartsense, uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence to gather realtime data which analyses the heartbeat - identifying irregularities with a 95 per cent accuracy level, the company claims.

It holds multiple sensors which pinpoints readings to produce specific data.

Starting in July they will be trialling the small monitor - ergonomically shaped to be worn around the chest - by giving it to patients at the surgery for a few hours at a time and analysing the data it comes back with.

Doctor Rameen Shakur, managing director of Cambridge Heartwear, has chosen the clinic as a base for the trial and will work alongside his brother Dr Faheem Shakur, a GP at the clinic, to deliver it.

Faheem, who grew up with his brother in Hutton, said: “It serves all adults who maybe affected by a heart abnormality. We are very privileged that we are going to be trialling it here at the centre.

“The device can detect heart abnormalities very quickly - it takes only three hours which is much faster than it’s competition, the Holter monitor.

“The trial should be easy and collecting the data will not be invasive.

“We hope to trial at least 100 patients. They will go about wearing it for a few hours and then bring it back. We need a certain number of patients to make it worthwhile.

“It’s better than an ECG because it gathers data as patients are moving around. Also ECGs need more man power.”

Rameen, whose background is an academic cardiologist, began to form the idea for a device which would measure irregular heart rhythms when he was visiting GP clinics.

He said: “When patients go to GP claiming of heart palpitations or heart problems all we need them to do is wear a Halter monitor for between four to 12 hours and it gives you an idea of what is happening.”

But Rameen says that it can take up to six weeks for the patient to get the results back because the process from gathering the data to diagnosis is cumbersome.

So he asked himself to get a device which makes the results easier to turn around.

“What I did was start in my back garden shed and made a prototype,” said Rameen.

It took his company the best part of two years to design the artificial intelligence (AI) installed in Heartsense.

“Patients can go to the GP, wear the devise and get the data and diagnosis all in the same day,” he said.

“The way I see AI is to assist the physician - it doesn’t replace the physician.

“It does the remedial task and the repetitive tasks very well. The AI asks itself if it made the right decision and continues to review any changes that come up.

“I wanted to have a system where you have patients taking control over their own health. Heartsense has a traffic light system. Green means your heart rhythm is normal, amber means there are a few blips and red means there’s a problem, go to your GP.

“The best thing about our AI is that it learns so quickly. It’s humanly impossible for us to analyse this data. The AI can do that but the human is still there to corroborate and diagnose the irregular heart beats.”

Rameen says that as the population of the UK changes devices like Heartsense will come into use more and more.

“The percentage of the UK population in 2016-2017 who had irregular heart beats was 2.5 per cent. For people over 65 that was four per cent. We have a tidal wave of elderly patients.”

‘Joyous and rewarding job as an NHS GP’

Dr Faheem Shakur and Dr Alex Tan, who work at St Mary’s Health Centre in Cop Lane, Penwortham, explain what life is like for the 21st century GP.....

George Bernard Shaw said that progress is not possible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

The NHS has changed rapidly since its conception post-war to meet the needs of a badly shaken country needing healthcare for all.

As practising GPs on the front line life, serving the health needs of the general public is both joyous and rewarding.

We still remember medical school days and the clinical lecturers saying that it is a privilege to be able to look after patients at their most vulnerable and keep confidential their most intimate details.

The joy of the clinical acumen on diagnosing the rare diagnosis coupled with the treatment plan is a satisfying part of the day of the life of a GP.

The daily life involves mundane tasks (which job doesn’t?) including repeat prescriptions and medicine requests and also entails specialist interest clinics such as child health surveillance, dermatology clinics or minor surgery to name just a few. It is not an understatement to say that seeing patients within 10 minutes for one problem let alone a multiple of problems in our ageing society necessitates skill and is inextricably linked with a high element of risk. Dealing with clinical risk is the fulcrum of general practice. Seeing a family unit and treating everyone in that group is a touching element of general practice and the formation of longstanding bonds through rites of passage does make one reflect on our own mortality too.

The job has changed from dealing just with clinical diagnoses to leadership and managerial and administrative elements too. Many people reading this will have heard of practices closing and how hard it can be to book an appointment at some places due to the workforce shortage. Firefighters trying to keep flames at bay does spring to mind. It can be frustrating to not be able to give patients the length of appointment they request, like patients on the continent receive, and more and more work is done by locums which means that continuity and rapport may not as be strong as it has been in the past. We would like more funding and provisions into social care and mental health care provision is still patchy and chaotic at best. The future of the NHS and the jewel in its crown – general practice – is hard to visualise.

The introduction of innovative medical products, e-medicine, ai, a short-term work force and remote consultations will no doubt play their part.

Privatisation does seem to be creeping in many facets of the NHS – how many people know that the computer system to enter consultations is owned by private companies?

Communication with secondary care could definitely be improved. It takes months for letters to come from secondary care and although improving, the systems in place are outdated and backward.

Just think of how much time would be saved if we could view patients’ hospital letters and records and vice versa for hospital staff especially A&E if they could view GP notes immediately.

It would definitely save time taking medication histories and understanding the long terms diseases and chronic problems that patients present with.

Although patient safety is improving year on year there are also ugly scandals that rear their head from time to time such as mid Staffordshire, Harold shipman, Bristol heart deaths, Morecambe Bay failings and now Gosport. The medical community needs to work hard to ensure trust is maintained in the profession in what has traditionally been the most trusted profession in the country.

The NHS was founded on three core principles:

That it meets the needs of everyone

That it be free at the point of delivery

That it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay

Long may that continue till at least 100 years.