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Improvements in NHS patient care mean hundreds more people in the UK are surviving heart failure than ever before.

That’s the conclusion of a new independent study, which found the mortality rate for people admitted to hospital with heart failure has dropped from 9.6% to 8.9%. It means that around 500 more lives have been saved in the past year, compared to 2014/15.

The figures are part of the latest annual audit report published by the British Society for Heart Failure. Now in its 10th year, the audit reports on patients discharged from hospital with a primary diagnosis of heart failure, publishing analysis on patient outcomes and clinical practice.

Its assessment of patients admitted to hospital with heart failure at NHS Trusts also shows that more people are being provided with crucial medicines for heart disease, as well as greater access to treatment by heart specialists. Acute heart failure is a life-threatening condition, which as well as posing immediate risk to life can have significant long-term consequences for people. Tackling heart failure is becoming a more significant challenge for the NHS due to the UK’s ageing population.

The latest independent audit by the British Society for Heart Failure covers the period from April 2015 to March 2016. It is based on an analysis of 66,695 admissions to English and Welsh hospitals where the patient’s main diagnosis was for heart failure.  This year’s audit was the largest ever, using data from 82% of all heart failure admissions in England and 77% of those in Wales.

The audit of NHS heart failure performance shows that:

  • The mortality rate for people treated for heart failure decreased for inpatients and also for patients 30 days after treatment and a full year after treatment.
  • 80% of patients reporting heart failure at hospitals in England and Wales were seen by specialists.
  • Nine in ten patients admitted to hospital received an echocardiogram – the key diagnostic test in heart failure conditions.
  • The number of people treated for heart failure with reduced ventricular ejection fraction, who were seen by a specialist and received all three of the key prescriptions for this condition, increased from 45 to 4%.

Commenting on the audit results, Sir Bruce Keogh, National Medical Director at NHS England, said: “The NHS is helping more people to survive heart failure.

“This independent study shows that improvements to NHS heart failure services have had a significant positive impact for people suffering this devastating condition. Increasing numbers of patients are getting specialist help and the full range of treatments thanks to years of world-leading scientific and clinical research and the efforts of NHS staff.

“It is a very significant problem and we recognise that there is scope for even more improvement but the progress highlighted today will be a spur for us to do even more to improve care and survival rates.” 

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