Heart Failure Hospital Visits Up a Third

Record number of heart failure hospital visits sees alarming 36% increase in past decade say BHF – Number of people with chronic condition grows by nearly 10,000 in a year.

The number of heart failure hospital visits has increased by more than a third in the last ten years as more people are diagnosed with the condition, according to latest statistics from the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Latest figures show that the number of hospital visits by heart failure patients increased by 36% from 107,000 to 146,000 between 2004/5 and 2014/15.

The BHF warns that more research is urgently needed to reduce the number of people with heart failure and improve treatments to halt the alarming increase in hospital visits – which places a massive burden on the NHS, accounting for more than £2 billion a year.

Heart failure hospital visits include all admissions, outpatient appointments and A&E attendances at NHS hospitals in England. This is the highest annual number of heart failure episodes in more than a decade.

GP lists show that there are now 411,000 people in England diagnosed with heart failure, an incurable condition, compared to 402,000 reported 12 months previously. Across the UK there are more than 500,000 people diagnosed with heart failure and 75,000 people under the age of 65.

Heart failure is a disabling condition and severe heart failure can have a worse life expectancy than many cancers. It is most commonly caused following a heart attack when the heart muscle suffers irreparable damage and can no longer pump blood efficiently around the body. In severe cases people with heart failure are left unable to perform regular day to day activities like walking upstairs or are left breathless, even when resting.

Sadly, up to a third of patients admitted to hospital with heart failure will die within twelve months.

The heart research charity says this rapidly rising trend in hospital visits is down to the ageing population and improving heart attack survival rates. The BHF says donations are urgently needed to fund more research to prevent heart attacks, improve treatments for heart failure and find ways to reduce and repair the damage caused by a heart attack.

Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, 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.

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.”

Through the Mending Broken Hearts Appeal, the BHF has funded over £25 million of research into regenerative medicine across the UK. This work aims to help repair the heart following a heart attack, which would benefit the majority of heart failure patients.

Elaine Harris, 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.

She 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. The British Heart Foundation’s research is so important to try and find a cure for heart failure so that patients, like me, would be given hope of a better quality of life.”

Find out more about heart failure and the BHF’s life saving research at bhf.org.uk/findthecure