Diseases of the heart and the circulatory system include conditions such as coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, stroke and vascular dementia. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) note that there are around 7.6 million people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK, and that an ageing and growing population and improved survival rates from heart attacks and strokes, mean these numbers are increasing. A BHF factsheet on coronavirus and (Coronavirus and Heart & Circulatory Diseases Factsheet (PDF)) cites international research findings that people living with cardiovascular diseases are at significantly increased risk of severe outcomes (3.9 times higher) and death (2.7 times higher) from Covid-19. UK research also shows increased coronavirus risk for people living with chronic heart disease, stroke and dementia, and their risk factors (e.g. diabetes, obesity). The BHF factsheet also outlines how the pandemic has significantly reduced capacity for cardiac surgery and procedures, and increased waiting times for treatment. It also cites data on the reduction in emergency cardiology admissions during the early stages of the pandemic, suggesting that people in urgent need may not have presented at hospital.

The Government has said that NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with regional and local teams to develop cardiac networks and integrated stroke delivery networks in England. These networks have been developed to take an evidenced-based, clinically led, whole pathway approach from prevention, diagnosis, treatment to end of life care (see PQ86531, Cardiovascular Diseases: Health Services, 9 December 2021).

NHS England published its Delivery Plan for Tackling the COVID-19 Backlog of Elective Care in February 2022.

Further reading

The following links to briefings and research may also be of interest:

Briefings on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people with heart and circulatory diseases, and on services for cardiovascular disease:

Information on Covid-19 for patients with cardiovascular diseases:

Complications of acute Covid-19 infection include those affecting the cardiovascular system, most commonly “heart failure, myocardial injury (5–31% of patients), arrhythmias, and acute coronary syndrome.”  Recent research has also suggested that Covid-19 infection may increase the longer term risk of cardiovascular disease, even for patients who did not have pre-existing heart and circulatory conditions.

House of Commons Library debate pack briefings:

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