|Record numbers of people are reporting to hospital|
with heart failure, according to alarming NHS statistics.
Hospitals hit by a 36% rise in heart failure cases: Number up by a third in a decade... because more people are surviving heart attacks
by Ben Spencer, Medical Correspondent for the Daily Mail, 2 June 2016
- Record numbers of people are reporting to hospital with heart failure
- Number of people diagnosed in England have increased by 9,000
- Heart failure is where the heart struggles to pump blood around the body
- It is often caused by a heart attack, when the heart muscles are damaged
Record numbers of people are reporting to hospital with heart failure, according to alarming NHS statistics.
Hospitals have seen visits by patients with heart failure increase by more than a third in the last decade, the figures reveal.
And the number of people diagnosed with the condition in England have increased by 9,000 in the last 12 months alone, according to GP lists.
Experts today warn that the unexpected growth in the problem demands radical new treatments.
Heart failure is a debilitating and incurable condition, in which the heart struggles to pump blood properly around the body.
It is often caused by a heart attack, when the heart muscles become damaged, weakened, and unable to do their job.
In severe cases people with heart failure are left unable to walk up a flight of stairs and are often left breathless, even when resting.
A third of patients die within a year of developing the condition - a survival rate worse than many cancers.
The new figures, collected by the NHS and analysed by the British Heart Foundation, reveal that there were 146,000 hospital visits, admissions or A&E attendances for heart failure in 2014/15 - a 36 per cent increase on the 107,000 seen in 2004/05.
The cost of these visits alone is estimated to be £2 billion a year.
Separate analysis of GP lists show that there are now 411,000 people in England diagnosed with heart failure, compared to 402,000 a year ago.
The British Heart Foundation puts part of the increase down to the nation’s ageing population, with older people more likely to suffer from the condition.
But, ironically, another major reason for the rise is the dramatic improvement in heart attack treatments.
Someone suffers a heart attack every three minutes in the UK.
Treatment has rapidly improved in recent years, with the development of 24/7 acute cardiac units meaning patients are fast-tracked to expert teams if they are suspected of having a heart attack.
Many more people survive heart attacks - but this means that more people go on to suffer from heart failure afterwards as a result of their weakened cardiac muscles.
But there are still delays, and the longer a patient has to wait for heart attack treatment, the greater the risk of subsequently developing heart failure.
Nearly half of the salvageable heart muscle is lost in the first hour of the attack, meaning that rapid treatment is essential.
Yet half of heart attack victims wait for more than an hour before seeking help – and one in ten people ignore the symptoms for two days or more.
The British Heart Foundation said awareness of heart attack symptoms needs to improve - but also called for much more research into treatments for heart failure.
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the charity, said: ‘It is deeply concerning that we are seeing such an alarming increase in the number of heart failure patients attending hospital.
‘Our research has helped to drastically improve survival rates from heart attack and seven in ten people now survive.
‘But this means an increasing number of people are subsequently living with the debilitating impact of heart failure.’
He added: ‘Heart failure can leave sufferers constantly short of breath and sadly many will die within a year of being admitted to hospital.
‘We urgently need to fund more research into the condition to find new and better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat heart failure.’
Elaine Harris, aged 50, from Wigan, had a heart attack aged just 48.
Her heart muscle was so badly damaged that she is now living with severe heart failure and has been unable to work.
She is now waiting for an assessment to see if she is suitable for a heart transplant.
Mrs Harris said: ‘The last thing I expected was to have a heart attack when I was 48, but to then be told I had severe heart failure was completely devastating.
‘My life has completely changed now, I no longer work, I sleep at least 16 hours a day and I can’t walk very far at all without resting.
‘I still live my life to the fullest I can – but living with this condition has meant a new and restricted way of life and I am completely dependent on my family.’