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Access to cardiac rehab 'flat-lining'

By Nigel Praities

Two-thirds of post-MI patients are not receiving crucial support to boost their chances of survival, a report from the British Heart Foundation reveals today.

Their survey of 83,500 UK patients who had a heart attack found only 34% subsequently took part in a cardiac rehabilitation programme, despite evidence the schemes can boost survival rates by a quarter.

The National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease in England set a target in 2000 for 85% of cardiac patients to be invited to participate in cardiac rehabilitation, but the figures suggest this is not being achieved nine years later.

The figures also show the most vulnerable patients and women are missing out on cardiac rehabilitation programmes.

Just 30% of those who underwent an angioplasty procedure and 28% of women took part in cardiac rehabilitation after their heart attack.

The BHF said evidence shows the combination of education, psychological support and exercise training gives post-MI patients a 26% greater chance of surviving in the five years following their diagnosis.

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the BHF, said: ‘The audit shows that progress on making this life-saving service available to patients is flat-lining.

‘Recovery from a heart attack isn't over when a patient leaves hospital and heart patients should be receiving the ongoing support they need.

‘Referral to cardiac rehabilitation should be a routine part of treating heart patients, and until this happens they will continue to miss out.'

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