The world’s first dedicated CT scanner for heart disease has been installed at the Ulster Hospital.
It will replace invasive testing and can image the heart in less than a single beat.
The scanner will replace the often lengthy series of visits to the chest pain clinic, tread mill tests and invasive angiograms where dye is pumped through the patient’s arteries.
Those identified with serious cardiac problems can be sent for surgery or stenting immediately, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust said.
Others with early cardiac disease can be referred for the appropriate surgery or medication while those with potential to suffer a heart attack in the long term can be placed on a preventative pathway.
Consultant cardiologist Dr Patrick Donnelly said: “This scanner changes the rules and allows us to engage with the patients who need us most.
“The large number of people presenting with chest pain far outweighs our capacity.
“The scanner removes diagnostic uncertainty and will allow us to evaluate patients quickly and in greater detail.
“In turn, this will free up resources for prevention pathways, with data indicating around 30% of heart attacks could be avoided.”