A report published today makes ten recommendations to improve the diagnosis, treatment and care of heart failure patients, following a parliamentary inquiry.
The report urges that a simple blood test, costing under £28, should be made available to all hospitals and GPs in England.
Experts say this would speed up diagnosis and save the health service millions of pounds each year.
Saving money and improving lives
The test (NTproBNP) was developed in the late 1990s by our researchers at the University of Dundee. It is used to detect levels of natriuretic peptide in a patient’s blood and either rules out or point towards a diagnosis of heart failure.
An economic analysis by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) showed that nationally, the net saving resulting from the use of the test in primary care was approximately £3.8 million.
However, despite current recommendations by NICE, the inquiry exposed that access to testing is variable across the country and in some areas, is not commissioned at all.
Living with heart failure can be debilitating, distressing and when untreated it has worse survival rates than some cancers. Over 400,000 people in England have been diagnosed with heart failure and there are likely to be many more undiagnosed cases.
The inquiry, prompted by Westminster’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heart Disease (APPG), received evidence from patients, health care professionals, and commissioners. In total ten recommendations were put forward which includes that all patients should receive specialist input to their care to improve outcomes and quality of life.
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Heart failure is a devastating condition which leaves sufferers constantly short of breath - unable to continue to do the work and activities they once enjoyed.
“Our research has helped to drastically improve heart attack survival rates, meaning 70% of people now survive. However many are left with irreversibly damaged hearts meaning a life sentence of living with debilitating heart failure.
“We urgently need to fund more research into heart failure to find new and better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat this cruel condition. But we must also improve quality of life for those currently suffering with this condition and we are keen to work with the Government and NHS to achieve this.”
Read the full report (PDF)