Thousands of heart patients are missing out on cardiac rehabilitation following a heart attack, increasing their risk of suffering a fatal event, according to new figures released today.
Around 66,000 heart patients missed out on cardiac rehabilitation in 2014/15, an effective service to help recovery following a heart attack or procedure.
Despite this shortfall, participation in cardiac rehabilitation has improved in the last decade, with uptake in the UK reaching 50 per cent for the first time last year.
But this is still just half the number of eligible heart patients across the UK, meaning tens of thousands of people are missing out.
Female patients in particular are being left behind and not accessing vital services to improve their chance of recovery and reduce the risk of suffering another heart attack.
Statistics published today in the National Audit of Cardiac Rehabilitation (NACR), hosted at University of York, reveal:
- 66,000 people took part in cardiac rehabilitation following a heart attack or procedure, but this is still just half the number of eligible patients
- More than 20,000 female patients are missing out
- Half of patients are left waiting too long to start rehabilitation
Cardiac rehabilitation following a heart attack can help achieve better physical and psycho-social outcomes for patients. This year’s audit report found that patients with clinical depression almost halved from 7% to 4% following cardiac rehabilitation, while the number of patients meeting national exercise guidelines increased from 40% to 70% following their programme.
Encouraging more women to take part
In England, around 52% of eligible male patients take part in cardiac rehabilitation compared to 44% of female patients.
It’s recommended that heart attack and angioplasty patients start cardiac rehabilitation within 33 days, but just half of programmes are meeting this target.
We are calling for cardiac rehabilitation services to do more to meet waiting time targets and wants to encourage more female patients to take part.
Dr Mike Knapton, our Associate Medical Director, said: “It is hugely encouraging that more patients are accessing rehabilitation services, but there is still much more to be done.
“Half of heart attack patients are still missing out on this effective service and are at greater risk of suffering a deadly heart attack. There are also delays in patients getting access to care, with half of services failing to meet targets.
“There is variation between services which needs to be ironed out to ensure that every patient has access to cardiac rehabilitation which can reduce their risk of suffering another heart attack.”
The National Audit of Cardiac Rehabilitation (NACR), which we have funded and is hosted at the University of York, combines data from hundreds of rehabilitation centres in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Cardiac rehabilitation offers physical activity support and lifestyle advice, such as exercise classes and dietary guidance, to help people living with heart disease manage their condition and reduce their risk of associated heart events.
Rehabilitation can help reduce the number of deaths by 18 per cent over the first six to twelve months and can cut readmissions by nearly a third (31%).
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