UK Heart Attack Survival Rate 'Must Improve'

The UK Must Get Better At Rapidly Treating People With Heart Attacks, Researchers Say

23.01.2014

Scientists writing in the Lancet journal have called on the government to do more in improving heart attack survival rates.

A study published in the January edition of the esteemed research publication looked at the quality of care received by people in the UK and Sweden between 2004 and 2010.

Sweden is well known for its excellent healthcare service and has been recommended as a role model for developing countries by the UN in this regard.

Researchers compared data from the UK and Sweden, finding that there had been treatment of 120,000 coronary patients in the Scandinavian nation during the six-year period, while the UK saw 390,000 in this timeframe.

Scientists concluded that 11,000 lives across Britain could have been saved if new technology had been put in place in the UK as soon as it had in Sweden.
 
Indeed, the researchers believe the UK is still playing catch-up in this regard and needs to do more to make sure emergency medicine for people with suspected heart attacks and strokes is a priority, rather than an afterthought.

Statistics revealed in the Lancet showed death rates for patients 30 days after a heart attack were 7.6 per cent for Swedes, while Britons faced a substantially higher 10.5 per cent risk. Mortality was also found to be higher in the UK at all stages of the recovery process.

Professor Harry Hemingway, of the University College London, worked on the study and commented: "Our findings are a cause for concern. The uptake and use of new technologies and effective treatments recommended in guidelines has been far quicker in Sweden. This has contributed to large differences in the management and outcomes of patients.

"It is plausible that the mortality gap persists. It is important to carry out these ongoing comparisons between countries."

The British Heart Foundation welcomed the findings and said it hoped these figures would push the government into action to improve survival chances.

Expert Opinion
It is quite concerning when you see the UK falling behind other countries in terms of medical care. However, we must look at the quality of care available in other countries to improve our own and to help us succeed where we have previously fallen behind.

“If the UK heart attack survival rate can be improved significantly by readily available technology and improving strategies in this area, then hopefully our government can learn from this and take the appropriate action.”
Julie Lewis, Partner