It has been reported that two thirds of cases of deadly heart failure are being missed by GPs as a result of the NHS “target culture”.
A recent study concluded that of almost 100,000 NHS heart failure patients found the vast majority were only diagnosed after they end up being admitted to hospital – by which time their condition is likely to have progressed.
Prof Martin Cowie, Professor of Cardiology at National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London said, “this is a medical emergency. We need to wake up and get our house in order”. He believes that the failings in diagnosis and treatment are cutting lives short.
The study reported that almost one million people in the UK suffer from heart failure which occurs when the heart muscle is too weak to pump blood round the body, causing breathlessness, fatigue and premature death.
Prof Cowie commented that, “GPs need to get the basics right”. It has been reported that since 2002 there has been a drop of cases from 20 per cent of cases in 2002 where patients have failed to receive the follow-up care they should have received from GPs.
Since 2010, GPs have been advised to offer patients at risk of the condition a specific blood test, which costs the NHS about £20 each. But in 2014, just 23 per cent of patients got this check, the research reveals.
Notable cardiac experts said, “women and older patients are more likely to be at risk of being a subject of the “dangerous failures to spot the life-threatening condition which can be treated with cheap pills”.
In addition, the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich found that, “in the majority of patients were on far too low doses of drugs which cost as little as 3 pence a day. In addition, the British Heart Foundation (BHF), reports that elderly people and women waited longest for a diagnosis, respectively 15 and 9 per cent less likely than other patients to be diagnosed without hospital admission.”
Charlotte Measures, Senior Associate at Medical Accident Group said, “it should never get to the stage where vulnerable patients need to return to their GP several times before being tested appropriately and/or referred to hospital for specialist care. Failure to do so means that patient lives are put at risk. This research should hopefully aid in preventing such instances where GPs fail to address a patient’s heart condition”.
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