~ Death rate falls 70% in 35 years as research improves treatments ~
Hospital visits for heart disease and stroke are increasing, according to new research funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
In 2013/14 there were around 1.7million hospital visits for cardiovascular disease (CVD) across the UK, a figure that has increased by 46,000 over the last three years. The majority of extra visits (37,000) were male patients.
The research from the University of Oxford, to be published in the journal Heart, also observed that the death rate for CVD had fallen by 70 per cent over the last 35 years.
The BHF says that advances in medical research leading to better diagnosis and treatments has helped dramatically reduce the number of deaths from heart disease and stroke. However, the increasing number of hospital visits may be partly due to an increasing and ageing population and improving survival rates.
The charity is warning that increasing hospital visits for CVD is placing a massive burden on the healthcare system and says 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.
The study shows that in 2010/11 there were 1.64million hospital visits – which include ordinary admissions and day cases combined – across the UK, but this increased to 1.69million in 2013/14.
Hospital visits have steadily increased over the last decade. The study showed hospital visits for heart disease and stroke increased by 11 per cent in England between 2005/6 and 2013/14. The number of visits in Wales increased by 15 per cent over the same period.
Across the UK, the death rate for CVD has fallen by around 70 per cent between 1979 and 2014. In 1979 there were around 341,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease across the UK, but this fell to 155,000 deaths in 2014.
The study also found that the burden of CVD was different between nations in the UK. Scotland had highest death rates and prevalence of CVD 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.
Between 1979 and 2013, coronary heart disease death rates decreased by 72 per cent in England, 70 per cent in Wales, 71 per cent in Scotland and 76 per cent in Northern Ireland.
Dr Nick Townsend, a BHF-funded researcher at University of Oxford, said:“Despite large reductions in mortality from CVD, CHD, and stroke, these conditions have remained a substantial burden to the UK, with rises in treatment and hospital admissions for all CVD.
“There is some evidence that improvements have not occurred equally for men and women or between the countries of the UK.
“Although these are promising trends for mortality and stroke admissions in women, prevalence and treatment are increasing over time for all CVD and stroke.”
Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Research has shown that immediate hospital treatment is the best way to ensure a good outcome for patients suffering a heart attack or stroke. And this is one of the reasons why death rates have fallen so much over recent decades.
“Yet coronary heart disease is still the single biggest killer in the UK and this research shows that the number of people being rushed to hospital with cardiovascular disease, including heart attack or stroke, is increasing.
“We urgently need to fund more research to find a way to eradicate our society of atherosclerosis, the principle cause of heart attacks and strokes.”
Find out how BHF-funded research is leading the fight against heart disease at bhf.org.uk/research