Since 2020, England has seen nearly 100,000 more deaths from heart disease than normal. In the past, this was explained solely by covid, but the British Heart Foundation (BHF) now acknowledges that this is no longer a sufficient explanation.
According to official BHF data for England, more than 500 people a week are dying from heart attack or stroke. This means that there have been 96,540 extra deaths from heart disease since March 2020.
While it was initially thought that the exceptional increase in heart disease was probably due to the number of covid cases, i.e. that the disease itself was causing more heart problems, the BHF now cautiously suggests that it is conceivable that there may be other causes.
– Covid-19 no longer fully explains the significant numbers of excess deaths involving cardiovascular disease, says Sonya Babu-Narayan, the organization’s associate medical director and consultant cardiologist.
Several research reports have confirmed a link between heart problems and COVID-19 vaccines. However, in the UK, as in many other countries, it is highly taboo to make this connection in public, and the BHF does not want to draw any such conclusions. Instead, it says that the heart problems may be due to a general increase in pressure on the health system in recent years.
– Long waits for heart care are dangerous – they put someone at increased risk of avoidable hospital admission, disability due to heart failure and premature death. Yet people are struggling to get potentially lifesaving heart treatment when they need it due to a lack of NHS staff and space, despite cardiovascular disease affecting record numbers of people, säger Babu-Narayan.
To reduce the number of heart-related deaths, the BHF calls for the prioritization of cardiac care in the healthcare system, a “renewed focus on preventing the causes of cardiovascular disease” and “supercharging cardiovascular research to unlock the groundbreaking treatments and cures of the future”.
– As more and more heart patients wait longer and longer, we need to see a specific and long-term commitment from government to fast-track improvements in cardiovascular care now and for the future, Babu-Narayan continues.