Northern Ireland news

Nine in 10 heart patients live with other long-term conditions, increasing their risk of dying, according to BHF NI

 The British Heart Foundation says we urgently need to improve treatment for people living with multiple conditions, to relieve mounting pressure on the health service

NINE in 10 heart patients live with other long-term conditions, increasing their risk of dying, according to new research.

The British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland (BHF NI) has warned urgent action is needed to improve treatment for people living with multiple conditions, to relieve mounting pressure on the health service.

It comes after an analysis commissioned by the charity revealed 90 per cent of people in the north with coronary heart disease have at least one other long-term condition, such as stroke, dementia and high blood pressure.

It also found six in 10 people have at least three conditions.

There are 75,000 people with coronary heart disease Northern Ireland, meaning up to 69,000 are living with multiple conditions.

The analysis shows that for people living with coronary heart disease, the most common second condition is high blood pressure, which affects over half (56 per cent) of patients.

Figures also reveal those with coronary heart disease, including those who have suffered a heart attack, are more than twice as likely to suffer a stroke, or develop vascular dementia.

There has also been a four-fold increase in the number of patients with heart and circulatory diseases living with five or more additional illnesses from 2000 to 2014. The reasons for this are poorly understood and not fully accounted for by an aging population.

The BHF says more research is urgently needed to improve our understanding of how conditions like stroke and vascular dementia are connected, and to develop new treatments for people living with multiple conditions.

Karen McCammon from BHF NI said: "Over the years we’ve made huge progress in improving survival rates for single conditions like heart attacks with BHF-funded research leading the way.

"However, today’s figures point towards an emerging and very urgent challenge.

"For example, increasing numbers of people are surviving heart attacks, but are going on to suffer strokes or live with additional conditions like vascular dementia, which limit their quality of life, increase their risk of dying and will place increasing pressure on the health and care system across Northern Ireland.

"We can only reverse this trend by funding more research into all conditions of the heart and circulatory system, with a focus on how they can be treated together."

Karen McCammon from BHF NI

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