Heart failure hospital visits increase by over a third in a decade

1 June 2016        

Physical exam

The number of heart failure hospital visits has increased by more than a third in the last ten years as more people are diagnosed with the condition, according to new statistics we have released. The number of people with the chronic condition has grown by nearly 10,000 in a year.

Latest figures show that the number of hospital visits by heart failure patients increased by 36 per cent from 107,000 to 146,000 between 2004/5 and 2014/15. More research is urgently needed to improve heart failure treatments so we can halt the alarming increase in hospital visits – which places a massive burden on the NHS. The condition costs the NHS more than £2 billion a year.

Over half a million people

Across the UK there are more than 500,000 people diagnosed with heart failure and 75,000 people under the age of 65. Data from GPs show that, in England alone, there are now 411,000 people diagnosed with heart failure compared with 402,000 reported 12 months previously.

Heart failure is a disabling, incurable condition and severe heart failure can have a worse life expectancy than many cancers. It is most commonly caused following a heart attack when the heart muscle suffers irreparable damage and can no longer pump blood efficiently around the body. In severe cases people with heart failure are left unable to perform regular day to day activities like walking upstairs or are left breathless, even when resting. Sadly, up to a third of people admitted to hospital with heart failure will die within twelve months.

Find out more about living with heart failure.

Fighting heart failure through research

Peter Weissberg

This rapidly rising trend in hospital visits is caused by our ageing population and improving heart attack survival rates. Donations are urgently needed to fund more research to prevent heart attacks, improve treatments for heart failure and find ways to reduce and repair the damage caused by a heart attack.

Our Medical Director, Professor Peter Weissberg, said: "It is deeply concerning that we are seeing such an alarming increase in the number of heart failure patients attending hospital.

"Our research has helped to drastically improve survival rates from heart attack and seven in ten people now survive. But this means an increasing number of people are subsequently living with the debilitating impact of heart failure.

"Heart failure can leave sufferers constantly short of breath and sadly many will die within a year of being admitted to hospital. We urgently need to fund more research into the condition to find new and better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat heart failure."

Discover our research to fight heart failure.

Mending broken hearts

Through our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal, we have funded over £25 million of research into regenerative medicine across the UK. This work aims to help repair the heart following a heart attack, which would benefit the majority of heart failure patients.

Elaine Harris, 50, from Wigan, had a heart attack aged just 48. Her heart muscle was so badly damaged that she is now living with severe heart failure and has been unable to work. She is now waiting for an assessment to see if she is suitable for a heart transplant.

"The last thing I expected was to have a heart attack when I was 48, but to then be told I had severe heart failure was completely devastating. My life has completely changed now, I no longer work, I sleep at least 16 hours a day and I can't walk very far at all without resting.

"I still live my life to the fullest I can – but living with this condition has meant a new and restricted way of life and I am completely dependent on my family. The British Heart Foundation's research is so important to try and find a cure for heart failure so that patients, like me, would be given hope of a better quality of life.”

Fund future research

Find out more about heart failure and the BHF’s research to beat heart failure.

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