Up to 75,000 heart patients could be missing out on crucial rehabilitation according to a report on cardiac care.
Statistics from the British Heart Foundation have revealed that just 45% of patients who have heart attacks, bypass surgery or angioplasty are referred by specialist teams or GPs for cardiac rehabilitation.
As well as thousands of patients missing out on the services, patients who are referred often have to wait for up to nine weeks to start – more than double the target time.
Cardiac rehabilitation offers lifestyle advice and support, including on diet and exercise, to help people living with heart disease to manage their condition and reduce the risk of associated heart events.
The report used data from more than 250 cardiac rehabilitation programmes across 19 regions: 12 strategic clinical networks in England, two cardiac networks in Wales, and five health and social care trusts in Northern. It shows that although 135,000 patients were eligible for rehabilitation following a heart attack, angioplasty or bypass surgery in 2012/13 only 60,000 took part in rehabilitation.
Uptake of the therapy has increased 2% since 2005/6. Patients who had bypass surgery were most likely to take part in a rehabilitation programme.
Dr Mike Knapton, our Associate Medical Director, said:
“We have been warning health services about this uptake issue for years but we aren’t seeing sufficient progress.
“Governments across the UK, the NHS and NICE all agree that cardiac rehabilitation is a vital part of care for people living with heart disease, and yet less than half of eligible heart patients are receiving it.
“In seven years, since the first report, uptake of cardiac rehabilitation has stalled and crept up by just two per cent, while thousands of heart patients are missing out on lifesaving rehabilitation.
“The health service has had long enough to sort this out. They have all the tools and guidance they need to provide higher numbers of patients with better quality of cardiac rehabilitation.”