Heart attack survival rates in UK lagging behind other countries, report says

3 July 2015        

Man clutching chest being comforted by a woman

A new report released by the Nuffield Trust shows that heart attack survival rates in the UK are lagging behind other countries, such as Sweden and Norway.

Using figures from 2011, Focus on: international healthcare comparisons, published by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation says that ten per cent of heart attack patients over the age of 45 die after 30 days in the UK, compared to 8.2 per cent in Norway, 8.4 per cent in New Zealand, and 8.5 percent in Sweden.

Reassuringly, data from the Myocardial Ischaemia National Audit Project (MINAP) has shown mortality rates have continued to decline in England and Wales.

Caution is needed when comparing mortality rates between different countries due to differences in the way data is recorded, which the authors of the report also point out.

Our research saving lives

Earlier this year, research we funded showed that using a high sensitivity blood test for troponin, with different criteria for men and women, could double the diagnosis of heart attacks in women and save more lives.

The charity’s latest figures also show that just 45% of patients who have a heart attack, angioplasty or bypass surgery receive cardiac rehabilitation afterwards

Cardiac rehabilitation following a major heart event can reduce the risk of the patient dying or suffering another heart event.

Coronary heart disease (heart attack and angina) is the single biggest killer in the UK and is responsible for around 73,000 deaths in the UK each year

Much more research is needed

We are calling for all eligible patients to be referred to cardiac rehabilitation, and for health services to ensure that their programmes meet the necessary standards so that patients reap the full benefits.

Dr Mike Knapton, our Associate Medical Director, said: “It’s difficult to compare mortality rates between countries because of the way data are recorded and the comparative figures are four years old.

“The trends show that survival rates in the UK are improving and through our research we’ve helped to reduce the number of deaths from coronary heart disease by more than half in the last 50 years as well as improving the lives of people living with it."