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'I fear being a forgotten casualty of pandemic'

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At the age of 49, Sarah Fisher feels her life is on a knife-edge. She had a heart attack during lockdown and has subsequently been diagnosed with heart failure.

In July, she was told she needed to have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted, which can shock the heart back into rhythm when it detects a potential cardiac arrest. But 12 weeks on, she is still waiting. "I could have a cardiac arrest at any point," Sarah says.

"It is awful not knowing what is going to happen. "I am on the urgent list – but the infection rates are rising and the clinics are closing."

"I don't know when I will get it.

"There are so many people in my position – we don't have Covid but our lives are at risk too. We are the forgotten victims of this pandemic."

British Heart Foundation analysis of Office for National Statistics data for England and Wales found almost 800 extra deaths from heart disease among under-65s from March to July - 15% more than would be expected.

The rate of death was highest during the full lockdown - but, worryingly, the trend continued afterwards. The charity blames delays in people seeking care, as well as reduced access to routine tests and treatments.

And NHS England figures show a sharp rise in the numbers waiting over six weeks for a whole range of key tests, including echocardiograms for hearts.

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Source: BBC News, 15 October 2020

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