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Heart disease now comes with an average three other illnesses

This news post is almost 6 years old

New research from the British Heart Foundation finds a dramatic growth in heart disease patients battling other illnesses, including dementia

Nine in ten people with coronary heart disease are living with at least one other long-term condition, such as stroke, dementia and high blood pressure, according to new figures released today.

Analysis from the British Heart Foundation reveals 90% of people living with coronary heart disease have at least one other long-term condition, while six in ten having at least three. Numerous studies have shown that living with multiple conditions significantly increases the risk of early death.

The growing number of people living with inter-related health conditions – or multi-morbidities – represents a grave challenge for our health system, which is focused on treating individual illnesses.

The analysis reveals that the most common comorbidity for people living with coronary heart disease is high blood pressure, which affects over half of patients.

However, just over a quarter of heart patients have diabetes, 14% have had a stroke, 13% are living with heart failure and 5% have dementia.

People 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.

The new research shows there was a fourfold increase – from 6.4% to 24.3% – 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.

BHF said urgent research is 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.

Simon Gillespie, BHF chief executive, 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. These conditions limit people’s quality of life, increase their risk of dying and will place increasing pressure on the health and care system across the UK.”

Gillespie said research into conditions of the heart and circulatory system is chronically underfunded.

BHF is launching a new campaign appealing for support for research in to all heart and circulatory conditions including research into a heart attacks, stroke, vascular dementia and diabetes.