Heart attack survival lower in the UK than Sweden

23 January 2014        

Category: BHF Comment

Man gets chest pain

The chance of surviving a heart attack is far lower in the UK than Sweden, according to a new study.

Using whole-country data from national clinical registries, researchers analysed time trends for quality of care and outcomes for over 119,000 Swedish patients and over 391,000 patients from the UK.

Results showed that, 30 days after a heart attack, death rates for UK patients were more than a third higher than for Swedish patients. Although the difference in death rates did decrease over time, mortality was always higher in the UK.

Our Associate Medical Director, Dr Mike Knapton, said: “Through access to patient health records, researchers have been able to highlight significant differences in heart attack survival rates in the UK and Sweden.

“The reasons behind the differing survival rates are complex, but one explanation could be the speed with which the two countries adopted primary angioplasty as an emergency treatment. Sweden’s early adoption meant they saw the benefits quicker and this is reflected in the figures. However, the UK has caught up and last year the majority of patients received this treatment.

“The lesson here for the UK is that we need to be led by the research and introduce pioneering practices quickly and on a large scale.”

Patient data

These researchers used patient data to draw important conclusions. But researchers often find it difficult to access this information.

We think more needs to be done to make it easier to use data from medical records to provide benefits to patients.

Read our report