A PIONEERING ten-minute treatment at Southend Hospital is protecting more people than ever before from heart attacks and strokes.

New training means that physiologists are now able to carry out a procedure which was previously conducted by more senior consultant cardiologists.

The fitting of a LinQ implantable loop recorder takes just ten minutes, but effectively prevents heart attacks and strokes.

Physiologists have been fully-trained by Dr Sajjad Mazhar to insert the implantable loop recorder just below the skin of the chest in a quick and simple outpatient procedure under local anaesthetic.

The device monitors heart rhythm for three years, and will inform the hospital if it detects irregularities.

Adapting the procedure has saved the hospital more than £150,000 and allows more consultant appointments to be made.

Nikki Baines, general manager and principal physiologist, said: “The implantable loop recorder is useful for monitoring and checking whether the heart is going too fast or too slow. The beauty of these devices is that they can be implanted for three years and we’ve got more chances of picking up symptoms early and prevent serious health problems like a heart attack or stroke.

“It’s a bit like having an MOT really. We basically treat as we find. Depending on what the loop detects, this could lead to a change in medication or having another device such as a pacemaker implanted. It might be that the heart is fine and whatever may be causing the symptoms may not be coming from that area. The procedure is quick and not too invasive. Once we are done, we give the patient a cup of tea and toast and half an hour later, they are ready to go home.”

The fitting of the recorders previously took place in the cardiology catheterisation laboratory, but now take place at the cardiac medical day stay unit.

Mrs Baines added: “We are also the training centre for implantable loop recorders and have helped set up services across the country. We have been supporting our physiologists’ colleagues at Mid Essex Hospital as they start a similar service”.