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Death rates for heart failure higher on non-specialist wards

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Heart failure death rates are more than double on some non-specialist wards what they are on specialised cardiology units, new figures have shown.

Just 8% of patients on cardiology wards died compared to 14% of those on general and 17% of patients on other wards, according to the National Heart Failure Audit.

The survey, which used data from 133 out of 156 NHS Trusts and Welsh health Boards, showed that 12% of patients died during admission and nearly one in three died less than 12 months after they were discharged. More than 700,000 people in the UK suffer from heart failure and the condition is responsible for one in 20 emergency hospital admissions.

The data also showed that many patients are not receiving the optimum drugs for their condition. Fewer than half of patients were admitted to cardiology wards and just under two-thirds (65%) were given beta blockers upon being discharged.

Professor Theresa A McDonagh (King’s College Hospital, London), clinical lead for the National Heart Failure Audit, said: “Use of disease-modifying therapies is, on average, fairly good although with substantial room for improvement, especially for beta-blockers and mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists. However, there are large variations in the use of these life-saving therapies between hospitals.

“The ongoing challenge is to change our current models of care so that all patients admitted to hospital with heart failure have access to specialist cardiology care to improve these poor outcomes in the future.”

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