Health officials warn about heart disease emergency in England
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has released a report revealing a total of 96,540 additional deaths related to cardiovascular conditions since the beginning of the Covid pandemic
Disturbing figures from official government data indicate that more than 500 individuals are losing their lives unnecessarily each week due to heart disease, heart attacks, or strokes (Representative Image:iStock)
Health officials have issued a warning about a heart disease emergency in England, calling for prioritisation of NHS heart care due to the occurrence of nearly 100,000 excess deaths since March 2020.
Disturbing figures from official government data indicate that more than 500 individuals are losing their lives unnecessarily each week due to heart disease, heart attacks, or strokes, The Guardian reported.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has released a report revealing a total of 96,540 additional deaths related to cardiovascular conditions since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.
Despite a surge in excess cardiovascular deaths attributed to Covid-19 infections during the first year of the pandemic, the number of deaths caused by cardiovascular disease has remained significantly higher than expected, even as Covid-19 deaths have declined.
The BHF suggests that factors beyond Covid-19, such as substantial and ongoing disruptions to NHS heart services, are likely driving this continued increase in excess deaths.
Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, a consultant cardiologist and associate medical director at the BHF, emphasised that while Covid-19 played a role, it no longer solely accounts for the significant number of excess deaths involving cardiovascular disease.
Dr Babu-Narayan highlighted the extreme strain on the NHS in recent years and the lengthy waiting times for heart care as contributing factors, putting individuals at a higher risk of avoidable hospitalisation, heart failure-related disability, and premature death.
Despite a record number of people being affected by cardiovascular disease, many face challenges in accessing essential heart treatments due to a shortage of NHS staff and limited capacity.
The BHF is urging action on three fronts: prioritising NHS heart care, renewing the focus on preventing cardiovascular disease, and intensifying research efforts to discover new treatments and cures.
Dr Babu-Narayan stressed the need for a specific and long-term commitment from the government to expedite improvements in cardiovascular care both now and in the future.
Additionally, Dr Charmaine Griffiths, the CEO of the charity, expressed deep concern over the increasing number of fatalities related to cardiovascular disease and declared that England is currently experiencing an emergency in heart and stroke care.
She emphasised the urgency of government intervention to provide hope for a better and healthier future for heart patients.
Professor John Greenwood, the president of the British Cardiovascular Society, acknowledged the high numbers of excess deaths, which although concerning, were expected.
He emphasised the urgent need for prioritising prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, along with an increase in staff to address the backlog of patients awaiting treatment.
Moreover, he emphasised the necessity of a strong public health strategy by the government to encourage healthy behaviours and proactively prevent the occurrence of heart disease.