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Found 89 results
  1. News Article
    Patients needing urgent treatment for life-threatening illness such as strokes or heart attacks waited more than 24 hours for an ambulance response, new figures show. New data shows the crisis facing NHS ambulance services resulted in every region missing vital NHS targets to respond to some of the most critically unwell patients last year. Despite improvements compared to 2022, figures obtained by the Liberal Democrat party show ambulance services continued to struggle with response times to category two patients, which may include those who have suffered a stroke or heart attack and should receive a response within 18 minutes. In two cases patients needing this level of response, in Warrington and Staffordshire, waited more than 25 hours for an ambulance. Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive at NHS Providers, which represents all NHS trusts, called for “urgent” investment and warned that “rising demand, limited resources and vast staff shortages are piling pressure on an already-stretched service, further driving up ambulance waiting times.” He said NHS hospital and ambulance leaders are working to reduce delays and responses at a time “when demand has never been higher.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 23 April 2024
  2. News Article
    A woman who feared she was having a heart attack said she spent nine days in a hospital staff room because of a shortage of beds. Zoe Carlin, 23, was admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry in March after experiencing severe chest pain. She said she spent more than a week in a “locker room” where she had to use a hand bell to call staff during what she described as a “dehumanising” ordeal. The Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) said it faced "extreme pressures" in its hospital emergency departments but could not comment on individual cases due to confidentiality. “For the full nine days I was in this alcove,” she told BBC Radio Foyle’s North West Today programme. “It’s basically the nurses' locker room. You can see the nurses’ lockers with their names on them. They [staff] just said there’s not enough beds,” she added. A privacy screen did not fully cover the room’s doorway and she had no access to a private bathroom. She said she was forgotten about at meal times on three occasions. A spokesperson for WHSCT said, "We are acutely aware of the continuing challenges and extreme pressures not just in our emergency departments but across both of our acute hospital sites with full escalation of beds on all wards and departments. In the Western Trust, when we learn of examples where care falls below the standard we expect, we review the circumstances and explore ways to improve care in the future." Read full story Source: BBC News, 11 April 2024
  3. Content Article
    Progress on cardiovascular disease (CVD) was a significant driver of better population health and greater prosperity in the latter half of the 20th century. However, progress has recently stalled, with indications it may be in reverse. This may be due to policy choices made in the last 15 years, particularly since the global financial crisis, above and beyond the more recent impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. This report by Chris Thomas from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) shows, among other findings, that people are more likely to leave work due to a heart condition than any other health issue.
  4. Content Article
    Hospitals with high mortality and readmission rates for patients with heart failure (HF) might also perform poorly in other quality concepts. Wang et al. sought to evaluate the association between hospital performance on mortality and readmission with hospital performance rates of safety adverse events. They found that patients admitted with HF to hospitals with high 30-day all-cause mortality and readmission rates had a higher risk of in-hospital adverse events. There may be common quality issues among these 3 measure concepts in these hospitals that produce poor performance for patients with HF.
  5. News Article
    The rate at which people are dying early from heart and circulatory diseases has risen to its highest level in more than a decade, figures show. Data analysed by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) shows a reverse of previous falling trends when it comes to people dying from heart problems before the age of 75 in England. Since 2020, the premature death rate for cardiovascular disease has risen year-on-year, with the latest figures for 2022 showing it reached 80 per 100,000 people in England in 2022 – the highest rate since 2011 when it was 83. This is the first time there has been a clear reversal in the trend for almost 60 years. Between 2012 and 2019 progress slowed and, from 2020, premature death rates began to clearly rise, the data reveals. Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, associate medical director at the BHF and a consultant cardiologist, said: “We’re in the grip of the worst heart care crisis in living memory. “Every part of the system providing heart care is damaged, from prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery; to crucial research that could give us faster and better treatments. “This is happening at a time when more people are getting sicker and need the NHS more than ever. “I find it tragic that we’ve lost hard-won progress to reduce early death from cardiovascular disease.” Read full story Source: Medscape, 22 January 2024
  6. News Article
    A new risk calculator will help to identify people with type 2 diabetes who are at high risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases with greater accuracy than ever before. By spotting high-risk individuals years in advance, doctors will be able to offer vital preventative treatment that can help save lives by warding off future heart attacks and strokes. The risk calculator is included in the new European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Guidelines advising doctors on the management of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes, which were announced at the ESC’s annual Congress in August. There are around 4.5 million people in the UK with type 2 diabetes, and one third of adults with diabetes die from a heart or circulatory disease. The SCORE2-Diabetes risk calculator, published in the European Heart Journal, will allow doctors to estimate the risk of developing a heart or circulatory disease in the next 10 years, with much improved accuracy. Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, our Medical Director, said: “People with diabetes are overall nearly twice as likely to die of heart disease or stroke as those who do not have the condition. "This increased risk can be substantially reduced by interventions such as blood pressure control and statins, but this requires more accurate identification of those at increased risk. “SCORE2-Diabetes is a valuable advance that will allow doctors to tailor pre-emptive treatments for individuals with type 2 diabetes based on their personal risk of heart and circulatory diseases. "Such an approach is vital as clinicians in the UK and across Europe find new ways to reduce the high levels of ill health associated with diabetes.” Read full story Source: British Heart Foundation, 26 November 2023
  7. News Article
    Artificial intelligence could be used to predict if a person is at risk of having a heart attack up to 10 years in the future, a study has found. The technology could save thousands of lives while improving treatment for almost half of patients, researchers at the University of Oxford said. The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), looked at how AI might improve the accuracy of cardiac CT scans, which are used to detect blockages or narrowing in the arteries. Prof Charalambos Antoniades, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the BHF and director of the acute multidisciplinary imaging and interventional centre at Oxford, said: “Our study found that some patients presenting in hospital with chest pain – who are often reassured and sent back home – are at high risk of having a heart attack in the next decade, even in the absence of any sign of disease in their heart arteries. “Here we demonstrated that providing an accurate picture of risk to clinicians can alter, and potentially improve, the course of treatment for many heart patients.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 13 November 2023
  8. News Article
    A 25-year-old who died from a heart haemorrhage after being diagnosed with a panic attack had been seen by a non-medical school trained physician associate (PA) but not a doctor, it has emerged. Ben Peters, 25, attended the emergency department at Manchester Royal Infirmary on the morning of 11 Nov 2022 with chest pain, arm ache, a sore throat and shortness of breath. While waiting, he endured a “severe episode of vomiting”. Peters was diagnosed with a panic attack and gastric inflammation by the PA and sent home with two medications, after a supervising consultant, who the coroner found never reviewed the patient in person, agreed with the diagnosis. Less than 24 hours later, Peters died from a rare complication of the heart that had resulted in a tear of the heart’s major artery, known as aortic dissection, and led to a fatal haemorrhage. The Aortic Dissection Charitable Trust (TADCT) says around 2,000 people in Britain die from the condition each year, which can be “reliably diagnosed or excluded” using a CT scan, but “misdiagnosis affects one-third of patients”. A prevention of future deaths notice issued by Chris Morris, the area coroner for Greater Manchester South, written to Manchester University Foundation Trust, said: “It is a matter of concern that despite the patient’s reported symptoms, in view of his age and extensive family history of cardiac problems, Mr Peters was discharged from the Ambulatory Care Unit without being examined or reviewed in person by a doctor." Read full story Source: The Telegraph, 21 October 2023
  9. Content Article
    The Covid-19 pandemic had an adverse impact on the detection and management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors including hypertension. In June 2022, nearly two million fewer people with hypertension were recorded as being treated to target, compared with the previous year. As a result, NHS England commissioned the AHSN Network to deliver a new national Blood Pressure Optimisation (BPO) programme building on its portfolio of work around cardiovascular disease. This report lays out: evidence about the impact of the BPO programme how it has been received by frontline staff how it has been implemented nationally.
  10. News Article
    Stroke and heart attack victims are now routinely waiting more than an hour for an ambulance, after a further fall in performance in recent weeks, and with hospital handover delays hitting a new high point, HSJ reveals. Figures for ambulance performance this week, seen by HSJ, showed average response times for category two calls at more than 70 minutes for successive days. 3,000 patients may have suffered “severe harm” from delays in February, ambulance chief executives say. Several well-placed sources in the sector said response times had deteriorated further this month, and that more than half of ambulance trusts were this week seeing average category two responses of longer than an hour. Some cited an average category two response last week of around 70 minutes, with the services under huge pressure from a combination of demand, long handover delays, and covid-related sickness. Category two calls include patients with suspected heart attacks and strokes, and the national target for reaching them is 18 minutes. The figures seen by HSJ for this week showed average response times for category one calls — the most serious, including cardiac arrests and other immediately life threatening emergencies — of more than 10 minutes on Wednesday, against a target of just 7 minutes. Monthly average performance for category one has never reached 10 minutes. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 1 April 2022
  11. News Article
    Patients are needlessly being put at risk of dying from heart problems because they have to wait months to be fitted with lifesaving implantable defibrillators, experts have said. Two million people in the UK live with coronary heart disease, which is a leading cause of heart failure. Those at the highest risk of dying as a result of heart failure may be offered an implantable cardioverter defibrillator device (ICD). These can kickstart the heart and may save their life. Patients have to wait at least 90 days before they can be fitted with an ICD while doctors wait to see if stents and medication might improve their health. However, a large study funded by the British Heart Foundation suggests there is little or no benefit to waiting, and the charity says lives are needlessly being put at risk as a result. Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, an associate medical director at the BHF, said the results had significant implications. “The findings suggest that the current ‘wait and see’ approach to find out whether a patient’s heart function improves with medication and stents isn’t always best, and that an unnecessary wait could even be the difference between life and death,” she said. “The results from this large UK-wide trial could lead to re-evaluation of how best to treat people living with severe heart failure due to coronary heart disease.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 11 September 2023
  12. News Article
    In the most deprived areas of England and Scotland, the nearest 24/7 accessible defibrillator is on average a round trip of 1.8 km away—over a mile—according to a pioneering study supported by the British Heart Foundation (BHF). The researchers, led by Dr Chris Wilkinson, senior lecturer in cardiology at Hull York Medical School, used data from national defibrillator network The Circuit to calculate the median road distance to a defibrillator with unrestricted public access across Great Britain's 1.7 million postcodes. Among the 78,425 defibrillator locations included, the median distance from the centre of a postcode to a 24/7 public access defibrillator was 726.1 metres – 0.45 miles. In England and Scotland, the more deprived an area was, the farther its average distance from a 24/7-accessible defibrillator – on average 99 metres more in England, and 317 metres farther in Scotland for people living in the most compared with the least deprived areas. There was no link between defibrillator location and deprivation in Wales. The researchers said they hoped the findings, presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Amsterdam and published in the journal Heart, would lead to more equal access to defibrillators. They noted that there were over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) annually in the UK; in England nearly 30% happened at weekends, and 40% between 6pm and 6am. Read full story Read research study: Automated external defibrillator location and socioeconomic deprivation in Great Britain (28 August 2023) Source: Medscape, 29 August 2023
  13. News Article
    Targeted screening of patients with type 2 diabetes could more than double new diagnoses of heart conditions, a study suggests. When applied at a larger scale, such an approach could translate into tens of thousands of new diagnoses, researchers believe. Conditions such as coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation and heart failure affect millions of people worldwide, causing a large number of deaths and increasing healthcare costs. Treatments are available that can prevent stroke or acute heart failure, but systematic screening is not currently common practice. Those living with conditions such as type 2 diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties – are at high risk of such conditions. A team of researchers led by Dr Amy Groenewegen, from the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands, has developed a three-step screening process to detect conditions in high-risk people at an early stage. Study author Dr Groenewegen said: “An easy-to-implement strategy more than doubled the number of new diagnoses of heart failure, atrial fibrillation and coronary artery disease in high-risk patients.” Read full story Source: Independent, 29 August 2023
  14. News Article
    The Government must provide the health service with more support to fulfil its ambition of extending healthy life expectancy and reducing premature death, an expert has warned. It comes after the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) published an interim report on its Major Conditions Strategy, a 5-year blueprint to help manage six disease groups more effectively and tackle health inequality. The groups are cancer, cardiovascular disease – including stroke and diabetes – musculoskeletal conditions, chronic respiratory diseases, mental health conditions and dementia. The Government said the illnesses "account for over 60% of ill health and early death in England", while patients with two or more conditions account for about 50% of hospital admissions, outpatient visits, and primary care consultations. By 2035, two-thirds of adults over 65 are expected to be living with two or more conditions, while 17% could have four or more. Sally Gainsbury, Nuffield Trust senior policy analyst, said the Government is right to focus on the six conditions, but "will need to shift more of its focus towards primary prevention, early diagnosis, and symptom management". She added: "What's less clear is how Government will support health and care systems to do this in the context of severe pressures on staff and other resources, as well as a political culture that tends to place far more focus on what happens inside hospitals than what happens in community healthcare services, GP practices and pharmacies. This initiative is both long overdue and its emphasis has shifted over time. The Major Conditions Strategy is being developed in place of a White Paper on health inequalities originally promised over 18 months ago." Read full story Source: Medscape, 16 August 2023
  15. News Article
    Dentists in the UK should be encouraged to give antibiotics to patients at high risk of life-threatening heart infection before invasive procedures, a study has found. Research suggests bacteria from the mouth entering the bloodstream during dental treatment could explain 30% to 40% of infective endocarditis cases. The rare but life-threatening condition occurs when the inner lining of the heart chambers and valves become infected. Antibiotics could limit the number of cases and reduce the risk of heart failure, stroke and premature death in high-risk patients, the study says. Current guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) advise against the routine use of antibiotics before invasive dental procedures for those at risk of infective endocarditis. “Ours is the largest study to show a significant association between invasive dental procedures and infective endocarditis, particularly for extraction and surgical procedures,” said Prof Martin Thornhill from the University of Sheffield, who led the study. Nice should review its guidelines advising against antibiotic prophylaxis, the researchers said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 19 August 2022
  16. News Article
    Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) officials are concerned that many more people are dying than expected in recent months – particularly older working-age people – with NHS care delays and interruptions a likely cause. HSJ understands there is concern and analysis under way across the chief medical officer’s team and in the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. The DHSC told HSJ initial work showed the biggest causes of the “excess deaths” were cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes) and diabetes. This supports the case they are being caused by a combination of the current very long delays for ambulances and other emergency care, and by people with heart disease and diabetes missing out on routine checks due to Covid and its knock-on effects, HSJ was told. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 17 August 2022
  17. News Article
    One in 25 people who die of a heart attack in the north-east of England could have survived if the average cardiologist effectiveness was raised to the London level, research shows. The research, undertaken by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), looked at the record of over 500,000 NHS patients in the UK, over 13 years. It highlights the stark “postcode lottery” of how people living in some parts of the country have access to lower quality healthcare. The results found that while cardiologists treating patients in London and the south-east had the best survival rates among heart attack patients, patients being treated in the north-east and east of England had the worst. Among 100 otherwise identical patients, an additional six patients living in the north-east and east of England would have survived for at least a year if they had instead been treated by a similar doctor in London. Furthermore, if the effectiveness of doctors treating heart attacks in these areas of the country were just as effective as the cardiologists in London, an additional 80 people a year in each region would survive a heart attack. The research also revealed a divide between rural and urban areas of England, with patients living in the former typically receiving treatment from less effective doctors compared with those in more urban areas. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 9 August 2022
  18. News Article
    Patients in England are set to benefit from a radical new project that will look to identify innovative new methods of preventing cardiovascular disease, as the Department of Health and Social Care appoints the first ever Government Champion for Personalised Prevention. John Deanfield CBE, a Professor of Cardiology at University College London, has been asked by the health secretary to explore how the potential of technology and data can be properly harnessed to allow people to better look after their health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Professor Deanfield will spearhead a taskforce comprised of experts in everything from policy and technology to economics and behavioural science to deliver a range of recommendations that will lay the foundations for a modern, tailored cardiovascular disease prevention service. The Government say the recommendations will: Identify breakthroughs in predicting, preventing, diagnosing and treating risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Advise on how public services, businesses and the population can be encouraged to support prevention outside the NHS. Use personalised data to predict and manage disease more effectively. Bring care closer to homes and communities by establishing new partnerships that advance the way preventative services are delivered. Evaluate how this strategy for cardiovascular disease prevention may impact conditions with shared risk factors. Read full story Source: NHE, 7 March 2023
  19. News Article
    Striking ambulance workers in two regions have said for the first time that they will only answer immediately life-threatening calls — abandoning previous agreements to cover some Category 2 incidents. Agreed exemptions (derogations) from ambulance strike action so far this winter have varied regionally and across different unions; but all have so far included some Category 2 cover. However, GMB told HSJ its members in the North East and North West today would cover only Category 1 calls – defined as “immediately life threatening” – during their action today. Category 2 includes more than any other category, and covers a wide range of incidents including suspected heart attacks and strokes. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 20 February 2023
  20. News Article
    A coroner has urged the health secretary to take action to prevent needless deaths after a woman died of heart failure following a four-hour wait in the back of an ambulance. Lyn Brind, 61, was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, with chest pains and low blood oxygen levels but could not be admitted because the hospital had “no space”. Instead she remained in a queue of ambulances outside A&E without a timely diagnosis or treatment and where warning signs about her condition were missed. It was only after four hours and 25 minutes of waiting that she was transferred to a ward, by which time she was “agitated and short of breath”. She was placed on life support but died 22 minutes later. Brind’s family believe the grandmother of four, a former dinner lady from the town, “might still be alive today” had she been admitted more swiftly. “She wasn’t given a chance,” her partner of 38 years, Richard Bunton, said. After an inquest earlier this month into Brind’s death in May 2022, the senior coroner for Norfolk, Jacqueline Lake, took the unusual step of writing to England’s health secretary, Steve Barclay, to raise concerns about the NHS and social care. She warned that others could die in similar circumstances unless action was taken. “I believe you have the power to take such action,” Lake wrote in a prevention of future deaths report. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 29 January 2023
  21. News Article
    A heart failure patient has become the first in the UK to be fitted with an early warning sensor the size of a pen lid which gives off an alert if their condition deteriorates. Consultant cardiologists Dr Andrew Flett and Dr Peter Cowburn have pioneered the procedure to fit the FIRE1 System during trials at University Hospital Southampton (UHS), Hampshire. Dr Flett said: “This innovative new device has the potential to improve patient safety and outcomes in the management of patients with chronic heart failure and we are delighted to be the first site in the UK to implant as part of this ground-breaking study". Read full story Source: The Independent, 12 February 2023
  22. News Article
    The NHS in England is set to have a major conditions strategy to help determine policy for the care of increasing numbers of people in England with complex and often multiple long-term conditions. Conditions covered by the strategy will include cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, dementia, mental health conditions, and musculoskeletal disorders. Cancer will also be included and will no longer have its own dedicated 10 year strategy. England’s health and social care secretary, Steve Barclay, told the House of Commons on 24 January that the strategy would build on measures in the NHS long term plan. Read full story (paywalled) Source: BMJ, 25 January 2023
  23. News Article
    During the pandemic, nearly half a million people in the UK missed out on starting medication to help prevent heart attacks and strokes, a new study suggests. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) team looked at prescribing data for the first 18 months after Covid hit. Some 491,000 people (27,000 a month) appear to have missed out on blood pressure pills, and 316,000 did not get treatment to lower their cholesterol. The team says more needs to be done to make sure that anyone who needs treatment gets it. During the pandemic, normal NHS services were severely disrupted. For example, there was a reduction in diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of high blood pressure, and other heart and circulation disease risk factors. Although the NHS took action, including providing more than 220,000 blood pressure monitors for people to use at home, data shows two million fewer people in England were recorded as having controlled hypertension in 2021 compared to the previous year. Lead investigator Prof Reecha Sofat, who is based at the University of Liverpool, said the findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, highlight the impact Covid has had on other important health conditions: "Despite the incredible work done by NHS staff, our data show that we're still not identifying people with cardiovascular risk factors at the same rate as we were before the pandemic. " Read full story Source: BBC News, 20 January 2023
  24. News Article
    About 15 million more people in England could be prescribed daily cholesterol-lowering statin pills to cut their risk of heart attacks and stroke, new advice for the NHS says. Given the very cheap price of the tablets and the possible health gains, they should be considered more often, the draft guidance says. There can be side effects though and there is debate about how widely this long-term treatment should be given and what associated risks are acceptable. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which advises the NHS, says people should be thoroughly assessed before statins are prescribed, warning the pills are not a quick fix or substitute for a healthy diet and exercise. The previous advice was for anyone with a one in 10 chance of having a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, within the next 10 years - based on factors such as age, blood pressure and cholesterol levels - to be offered a statin. But NICE now says including adults with a one in 20 chance could save 2% of them from having a heart attack or stroke during that period. Spokesman Paul Chrisp said patients should discuss the benefits and risks with their doctor, adding: "The evidence is clear, in our view, that for people with a risk of 10% or less over 10 years, statins are an appropriate choice." Read full story Source: BBC News, 12 January 2023
  25. News Article
    England is engulfed in a cardiovascular disease emergency, health bosses have said, as stark figures reveal there have been almost 100,000 excess deaths since the start of the Covid pandemic. Analysis of official government data suggests that more than 500 people a week are dying needlessly from heart disease, heart attacks or strokes. There have been 96,540 extra cardiovascular-related deaths since March 2020, according to the report by the British Heart Foundation (BHF). The BHF said other factors were likely to be driving the continued increase in excess deaths involving cardiovascular disease, including severe and ongoing disruption to NHS heart services. “Covid-19 no longer fully explains the significant numbers of excess deaths involving cardiovascular disease,” said Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, a consultant cardiologist and associate medical director at the BHF. “Other major factors are likely contributing, including the extreme and unrelenting pressure on the NHS over the last few years. “Long waits for heart care are dangerous – they put someone at increased risk of avoidable hospital admission, disability due to heart failure and premature death. Yet people are struggling to get potentially lifesaving heart treatment when they need it due to a lack of NHS staff and space, despite cardiovascular disease affecting record numbers of people.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 22 June 2023
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