UK hospitals short-changing women with heart failure

November 13, 2007

Women with heart failure are less likely than men to receive recommended investigations and treatment, when admitted to hospital as an emergency, reveals an extensive UK survey, published ahead of print in the journal Heart.

The findings are based on a survey of almost 9500 patients with heart failure, who were admitted as an emergency to 176 out of 177 acute care hospitals in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 2005.

The survey was based on information supplied to the health services watchdog, the Healthcare Commission that year, as part of its national check on acute care services.*

The results indicate that heart failure is being better managed than it was in previous surveys, and that hospital stays for these patients have shortened. But there are still shortcomings.

Deaths from heart failure remain high. Just over half (56%) of those admitted had already been diagnosed with heart failure. And three out of four patients had moderate to severe symptoms on admission, and one in seven (15%) died while in hospital.

Once admitted, only 14% of patients were transferred to the care of a heart specialist.

Half the admissions were women. They tended to be around five years older than the men, and were significantly less likely to have undergone the recommended investigations or been given recommended heart failure treatment.

These included ultrasound scans to detect heart failure (echocardiography), and for those already diagnosed with the condition, drugs, such as ACE inhibitors and beta blockers, despite the strong evidence of the effectiveness of these drugs.

With the exception of diuretics, women remained significantly less likely to be given treatment to prevent worsening of their heart failure when they left hospital, even after having been admitted as an emergency with their condition.

And few patients, irrespective of gender, received all the appropriate recommended care once they had left hospital.

Only one in five patients were given an appointment with a specialist to monitor their progress, and less than 1% were referred to rehabilitation or specialist palliative care.

The authors point out that heart failure will become more common as the population ages and treatment for, and survival from, coronary heart disease continues to improve.

Take up of recommended treatment for heart failure has been slower than for other areas of heart disease, they say..."and significant geographical and gender variation exists in standards of diagnosis, treatment, and care of this progressive and incurable condition."

"Whereas [heart attack], angina and arrhythmia services have clearly defined targets and have been the focus for sustained investment, heart failure still appears to be regarded as a Cinderella subspecialty, despite its ubiquitous nature," they conclude.


Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to