Increasing number of hospital visits for heart disease and stroke

22 August 2016        

Category: Research

Doctor using a stethoscope

Hospital visits for heart disease and stroke are increasing, according to new research we funded.

The number of hospital visits due to heart disease and stroke has increased by 46,000 over the last three years. In 2013 and 14 there were around 1.7 million hospital visits for cardiovascular disease across the UK, a figure that has increased by 46,000 over the last three years. 

The study from the University of Oxford shows that in 2010/11 there were 1.64 million hospital visits - which include ordinary admissions and day cases combined – across the UK, but this increased to 1.69 million in 2013/14.

This increasing number of hospital visits may be partly due to an increasing and ageing population and improving survival rates, and is putting heavy pressure on the healthcare system.

Equal improvements needed

Dr Nick Townsend, a BHF-funded researcher at University of Oxford, said: “Despite large reductions in mortality from heart disease and stroke, these conditions have remained a substantial burden to the UK, with rises in treatment and hospital admissions for all cardiovascular conditions.

“There is some evidence that improvements have not occurred equally for men and women or between the countries of the UK. Eighty per cent of these increased admissions are men.

“Although these are promising trends for mortality and stroke admissions in women, prevalence and treatment are increasing over time for all heart disease and stroke.”

Heart disease numbers vary by nation

The study also found that the burden of cardiovascular disease was different between nations in the UK. Scotland had highest death rates and prevalence of cardiovascular disease in the UK – the authors say this is potentially because of its higher levels of deprivation.

In Scotland, 4.3 per cent of the population are living with coronary heart disease, compared with 3.9 per cent in both Wales and Northern Ireland, and 3.3 per cent in England.

More research still crucial

The study did observe however that the death rate for heart disease and stroke has fallen by 70 percent over the last 35 years, with 341,000 deaths due to cardiovascular disease in 1979 to 155,000 deaths in 2014.

We believe advances in medical research leading to better diagnosis and treatments have helped dramatically reduce the number of deaths from heart disease and stroke.

But these increasing hospital visits for CVD are placing a massive burden on the healthcare system and more research is urgently needed to prevent, diagnose and treat heart disease. Currently, around seven million people in the UK are living with cardiovascular disease. 

Find out more about our research.