Thousands of heart failure patients in the UK not receiving recommended treatment

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As heart disease remains a pressing issue for many patients, identifying ways to avoid heart failure are at the forefront of physicians’ efforts.

A new study examining patients in the United Kingdom finds that often times, they aren’t receiving effective treatment to prevent eventual heart failure and death.

One in five people develops heart failure at some point in their life, and with more than 15 million people currently suffering from heart failure in Europe alone, the study identified some key findings on how to improve that statistic, according to Pardeep Jhund, the lead author on the study and a cardiologist at the University of Glasgow in the U.K.

"Patients are frequently admitted to hospital and are at a high risk of dying,” Jhund said in a statement. “Effective, recommended therapies exist, but are potentially being under-used in clinical practice. Therefore, we wanted to understand whether patients with heart failure are receiving the best treatment available to them."

The two-year observational study looked at the primary care records of 14,546 heart failure patients and analyzed rates and causes of hospitalization, rate of serious illnesses and deaths, and treatment practices from 2009 to 2011.

The researchers found that a significant number of patients were not receiving guideline-recommended treatments. Patients were considered to be receiving recommended treatment if their prescribed dose was within 25 percent of the guidelines.

Among several treatments, it was found that up to 80 percent of eligible patients with heart failure may have not been receiving appropriate doses of treatment.

Ultimately, the findings show that there needs to be an emphasis on treating patients with preventative heart failure therapies, the researchers argued. Not only will it save more lives, but it will also cut down on hospital costs.

"Our results highlight that rates of hospital admissions and deaths in patients with heart failure remain substantial,” Jhund said. “Evidence-based, guideline-recommended therapies are under-used, and used at lower doses than those shown to be effective. Prescription rates of therapies must increase, and therapies must be prescribed at higher doses, to reduce hospitalizations and help these patients live longer."