08:21am Sunday 23 February 2020

No excuse for lack of vital rehab for cardiac patients

Man stretching

The good practice guide, from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, aims to help commissioners design quality cardiac rehabilitation schemes, which are proven to reduce deaths and help prevent costly hospital readmissions.

It complements an existing Cardiac Rehabilitation Commissioning Pack, a practical ‘how to’ guide for commissioners produced by the Department for Health, NHS Improvement, and with some help from us.

Cardiac rehabilitation is a programme of exercise and information sessions specifically for heart patients.

Numbers taking part

But worryingly, the latest figures from the 2011 National Audit of Cardiac Rehabilitation (NACR), which we fund and is produced by the University of York, show that just 43 per cent of people in England who had a heart attack, bypass surgery or angioplasty took part in 2009/10. Angioplasty is when a tiny wire cage known as a stent is inserted via a catheter to open up blocked arteries.

This was just one percentage point higher than the previous year, showing that progress in driving up the number of patients taking part is slow.

There’s no excuse now for commissioners who fail to ensure this vital service is provided

Our associate medical director, Dr Mike Knapton, said: “The benefits of cardiac rehabilitation for heart patients are enormous. It not only reduces their risk of dying early but means they are also more likely to lead healthier, better quality lives by exercising more, eating well, stopping smoking and feeling less anxious.

“But there are also huge benefits for commissioners because at roughly £477 per patient, cardiac rehabilitation is cost effective and proven to prevent costly hospital readmissions.

“The new NICE guide is the latest in a series of tools to help health services design and commission high quality cardiac rehabilitation programmes, so there’s no excuse now for commissioners who fail to ensure this vital service is provided, or fail to explain its value to patients.”

More than 2.2 million people in England live with heart disease, and more than 1.2 million have had a heart attack.

Latest audit findings

The latest findings from the NACR audit for patients in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who attended cardiac rehab in 2009/10 found:

  • A 21% increase in the number of people exercising five times or more a week
  • A 21% increase in the proportion of people at the target level for cholesterol
  • A 5% drop in the number of smokers
  • A 6% drop in the number of people who were borderline or clinically anxious

British Heart Foundation is a registered Charity No. 225971. Registered as a Company limited by guarantee in England & Wales No. 699547.
Registered office at Greater London House, 180 Hampstead Road, London NW1 7AW. Registered as a Charity in Scotland No. SC039426

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