More lives saved if specialist teams treat acute heart failure

People with suspected acute heart failure should be seen by a specialist team within a heart failure service at hospital.

NICE has begun a public consultation, covering the immediate care of someone who is acutely unwell as a result of heart failure.

“Acute heart failure is the leading cause of hospital admission in people 65 years or older in the UK. It is usually caused because the heart muscle has become too weak or stiff” says Professor Mark Baker, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE. “Acute heart failure is life-threatening so it’s important to diagnose the problem correctly so patients get the best treatment.”

People with acute heart failure are usually admitted through the accident and emergency department. Those who are very sick tend to be admitted to intensive care units, high dependency units or the coronary care units.

The remaining patients go into either the general medical wards or to the cardiology wards, depending on what treatment they need.

This practice is not standardised across hospitals and different factors affect the decision, including the person’s age, whether they have any other illnesses and where the available beds are.

“The treatment patients with acute heart failure receive, and how successful that treatment is, differs depending on the unit they were admitted to” adds Professor Baker. “We would like to see all patients who are admitted to hospital with suspected acute heart failure seen by specialists through a dedicated service, regardless of the configuration of the hospital.”

Read more at NICE.