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'Neglected' female patients missing out on cardiac rehabilitation

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Cardiac rehabilitation services in England are “neglecting” women, according to a charity which found around 60% of eligible female patients are missing out on this type of care following a recent audit.

The British Heart Foundation’s National Audit of Cardiac Rehabilitation (NACR) found 14,000 women took part in cardiac rehabilitation out of 38,500 eligible female patients in England 2013/14.

The service, which offers physical activity support and lifestyle and diet advice, is designed to reduce the risk of further health problems after a patient has suffered a “major heart event” such as a heart attack.

“Service providers and commissioners should improve the appeal of the programmes and promote them in a way that motivates female patients to attend”

Patrick Doherty

Levels of uptake for men in England following a heart attack, angioplasty on coronary bypass graft are also low, with around 48% not using the rehabilitation service.

While there was a small improvement in the overall number of people using this type of service across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – up by 2% compared to the year before – more must be done to boost these figures, warned the report.

The data analysis, carried out by the University of York using information from 164 centres, found the most common reason why patients did not attend cardiac rehabilitation – in 39% of cases – was due to lack of interest.

Commenting on the lack of women using services, NACR director Patrick Doherty said: “Service providers and commissioners should take action to improve the appeal of the programmes and promote them in a way that motivates female patients to attend.

“Nurses can offer information and guidance in a kind, non-judgemental and respectful way, taking into account the patients’ personal circumstances”

Mike Knapton

“A range of options should be offered including community and self-management approaches, all of which have been shown to benefit patients,” he said.

British Heart Foundation medial director Dr Mike Knapton added that nurses were in a “good position” to offer information and advice to patients about cardiac rehabilitation during their recovery from a heart attack or surgery.

“Nurses can offer information and guidance in a kind, non-judgemental and respectful way, taking into account the patients’ personal circumstances,” he said.

“This is not intended to imply all nurses should be experts on providing cardiac rehabilitation, but they should be able to provide the necessary information to allow the patients make an informed choice,” he said.

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