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Heart attack aftercare "a lottery"

A new report has revealed that heart patients in Manchester receive some of the best continuing care in the country.

The study by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) shows that 73% of heart attack patients in the city have access to cardiac rehabilitation.

The treatment gives people a 26% greater chance of surviving in the five years after their diagnosis, but in some areas only one in seven are given it.

Patients participating in the programme, which costs £600, are taught how to manage their condition and change their lifestyle to improve their chances of survival.

It also provides advice, support and counselling from medical professionals.

But the BHF figures show large discrepancies between the numbers of people receiving the treatment across England and Wales.

Around 19% of patients in the Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland strategic health authority (SHA) get cardiac rehabilitation, but in the neighbouring SHA of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, 61% receive the treatment.

Professor Bob Lewin, of the BHF Cardiac Care and Education Research Group, said funding shortfalls and a lack of understanding about the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation have made the situation worse.

He said: "The problem is there is often nobody senior enough fighting for this. The programmes are normally developed by nurses or physiotherapists.

"Funding is very competitive, and they do not always have a big enough voice to get on to the committees where decisions are made."

British Heart Foundation

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"I helped develop and implement a community Phase II programme for my PCT, and it has successfully been running for two years" - Carol Grocott, Community Cardiac Liaison Nurse, Derby City PCT