Heart failure admissions hit record levels in England rising by a third in five years

The number of people being admitted to hospital due to heart failure has reached record levels in England after rising by a third in five years, new data has revealed.

An analysis by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), published on Monday, found that heart failure admissions in England had risen from 65,025 in 2013-14 to 86,474 in 2018-19 – a 33% increase.

The charity said that this was three times as fast as all other hospital admissions – which have risen by 11% in the same period.

It said that with heart failure patients staying in hospital for around 10 days – double the average of five days for all diagnoses – this is putting “immense pressure” on the NHS.

BHF medical director Professor Sir Nilesh Samani (pictured) said that heart failure posed a “growing and increasingly” complex challenge, not only for people living with the condition but people who care for them too.

He added: “It’s concerning to see yet another increase in hospital admissions – an indication that how we diagnose, treat and care for these patients needs urgent attention.

“There is no cure for heart failure, but with access to the right services and support, people can go on to have a good quality of life for many years.

“We need to find new and improved ways of delivering this care, including in communities rather than hospitals.

“Doing so will improve thousands of lives and relieve the unsustainable pressure that heart failure is putting on our health service.”

The charity said that an estimated 920,000 people have heart failure, and the burden of heart failure in the UK is similar to the four most common cancers combined.

Factors contributing to the rise in people living with heart failure include an ageing and growing population, growing numbers of heart attack survivors and high rates of people living with heart failure risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes, it added.

Research also suggested that nearly eight in 10 people with heart failure are diagnosed after a hospital admission, even though four in 10 had visited their GP in the previous five years with symptoms such as breathlessness, swollen ankles and exhaustion, the charity said.

The BHF warned that the figures highlight the significant challenge this currently incurable condition posed to the NHS and said improved ways of detecting, diagnosing and treating heart failure were “urgently” needed along with more innovative models of care.

The charity called for greater access to specialist blood tests and heart scans for GPs to help diagnose heart failure earlier.

It has launched a new £1 million Hope for Hearts Fund to test innovative ways of caring for people with heart failure.

Innovations could include more effective use of technology and data, new service models or new ways of engaging people in their own care, it added.

Professor Samani added: “Our research aims to harness the potential of regenerative medicine to reverse and cure heart failure, but it is going to take some time before it can help people with heart failure.

“In the meantime, we need to raise greater awareness of the devastating impact of heart failure, and ensure everyone affected receives a quick diagnosis and the best standard of care.

“Innovative initiatives like our Hope for Hearts Fund will help find new and improved ways of caring for people with heart failure that could rapidly lead to a better quality of life for many thousands of people.”

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