latest health care news

15.07.20

Significant drop recorded in hospital admissions for heart attacks

New research from the University of Oxford, working in collaboration with NHS Digital and experts from a number of other universities, has shown admissions to hospital with heart attacks fell by 35% by the end of March, emphasising the significant reduction in people attending hospital due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Concerns have been raised that with the data representing as many as 5000 fewer admissions with heart attack in 2020 than expected, patients could be missing out on lifesaving treatment.

Throughout Covid-19 pandemic, guidance has always been that patients should still attend hospital when needed for emergency or urgent care. However, admission rates across the board have reduced significantly during the lockdown period as people remain hesitant to attend.

Admission rates had partially recovered by the end of May but remained below expected levels.

The study used data regularly collected by NHS Digital from NHS Hospital Trusts in England to acquire up-to-date information about admissions to hospital which it could compare with the corresponding weekly admission rates from 2019, as well as working with experts from the University of Keele, the University of Leeds, Imperial College London, University College London, Barts Health NHS Trust and the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust.

Rates of admission for heart attacks caused by a partial blockage of blood supply to the heart (‘non-ST elevation’ heart attacks) fell by 42%. Patients with this type of heart attack need urgent assessment and treatment with medications, while many also benefit from an urgent procedure to open a narrowed artery to the heart.

Senior Author Barbara Casadei, British Heart Foundation Professor in Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Oxford, and President of the European Society of Cardiology, said: “These findings must be taken into serious consideration in the event that a second pandemic wave develops as lockdown restrictions are eased worldwide.

“Medical societies, heart foundations, and governments have a responsibility to not only inform patients of the importance of seeking appropriate care, but also to ensure that a safe environment is provided for patients who are admitted to hospital because of a cardiovascular emergency.”

Tom Denwood, Executive Director Data, Insights and Statistics at NHS Digital added: “It was a privilege to make this research possible, in partnership with our academic colleagues, through the provision of our platforms and data, our engineering and analytical expertise, and through our collaborative approach.

“By making the data submitted by NHS providers more rapidly available for secure analysis, we were able to deliver together at pace, and to inform ongoing policy-making in response to Covid-19.”

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