Speaking at our AGM back in November, local consultant cardiologist Dr Nishat Siddiqi focused on three developments she believes will have a big impact on treatment for Heart Disease. Here’s what she told us…


Also known as Ozempik, this new drug was developed as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes, but it’s also showing promise for people who are overweight and have cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The drug works on two fronts. It slows digestion, reducing your appetite and helping you lose weight. And it also helps your body produce insulin and reduce blood sugar levels – an important part of managing CVD.

Dr Siddiqi said that over the course of one big three-year trial, patients on semaglutide lost, on average, almost 10% of their body weight, and fewer died from cardiovascular causes than those who weren’t on the drug.

Semaglutide is given once a week as an injection. It can cause digestive problems for some people, and it’s also very expensive, so at the moment, the NHS is only giving it to people who are very overweight and having health problems as a result. But going forward, Dr Siddiqi says it could be an effective alternative to treatments such as gastric-band surgery.


Implanted pacemakers have been around for more than 50 years and have helped millions of heart patients lead long, full lives. But fitting the devices and feeding the leads into the heart is invasive and 16% of patients go on to develop complications including infections, which can be fatal.

So the development of a new leadless pacemaker is good news. Just 16mm long – the size of a large vitamin capsule – this remarkable little device is 93% smaller than traditional pacemakers, with a battery life of 8-13 years.

It’s inserted directly into the heart through a vein in the leg, so there’s no need for a chest incision. And because there are no leads, the procedure is generally quicker and there’s less chance of complications or infections. There’s also no scarring or visible evidence of the pacemaker under the skin.

Fewer than 100 leadless pacemakers have been fitted in Wales so far, but Dr Siddiqi expects them to become the norm over the next few years.


AI is increasingly being used in medicine. Dr Siddiqi gave the example of working out the volume of a patient’s left and right ventricle following a cardiac MRI. Currently this can take a consultant up to 20 minutes – but new AI programmes (not yet available to the NHS) can do the maths in seconds.

Dr Siddiqi also explained how AI can be better at spotting problems. This is because AI is “trained” using hundreds of thousands of real-life examples – way more than a consultant would ever see in their lifetime. It can also examine scans more minutely than the human eye.

One area where this could help is in CT coronary angiograms, which are used to look for narrowing of the arteries. Researchers are currently testing a new tool that uses AI to check scans for signs of fat build up and inflammation in the blood vessels – key risk indicators for Heart Disease. Results so far suggest that up to one-third of patients currently assessed as low risk may actually be at high risk of having a heart event.

It’s still early days for this technology, but Dr Siddiqi says AI has the potential to speed up diagnosis and treatment, and predict risk more accurately – and that’s good news for everyone!

• Look out for news of our next guest speaker event, coming soon.