Heart ImageComputer software of a different kind is now helping doctors to decide how to best treat their patients, who are admitted to hospitals with heart attacks. An international consortium of researchers, led by the University of Edinburg, has developed a programme that enables doctors to rapidly assess the severity of patient’s condition. This new ‘risk calculator’ is already being used in UK hospitals.

An international group of cardiologists and statisticians have spent several long years producing the Global Registry of Acute Coronary Events (GRACE) calculator. It will be able to predict the likelihood of the patient suffering a heart attack, and even calculates their chances of dying in the next months.

Doctors using the ‘risk calculator’ take key data from patients at their bedside, and input it into the specially-devised programme. Key facts including the patient’s age, medical history and blood pressure, as well as information derived from on-the-spot blood and urine tests are recorded by doctors.

The patients statistical profile is then entered into a computer and matched with data derived from thousands of other coronary cases. Using the outcomes of these previous cases as a guide, the computer will not only give an accurate assessment of the patient’s conditions, but also recommend possible treatment.