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Nurses beat GPs for heart-care best practice

Specialist nurses are ahead of GPs in chronic heart failure best practice, a new survey has revealed. 

Awareness of the European Society of Cardiology heart failure guidelines is higher among primary care nurses with an interest in cardiology and cardiac nurses than GPs. 

Only 36% of GPs were aware of the guidelines, compared with 92% of cardiologists, 82% of secondary care cardiac nurses and 50% of primary care nurses interested in cardiology. 

“The ESC Guidelines are the best resource available for improving patient care and reducing the number of chronic heart failure patients admitted to hospital. While the UK-specific guidance is robust, it is less up-to-date,” said cardiovascular nurse specialist at Public Health Bromley, Michaela Nuttall. 

She added: “Specialist nurses are key to ensuring that the latest guidelines and research is shared with more general nurses either in the hospital, community or primary care setting, where together they can deliver real benefits to patients and their families.”

Heart failure affects approximately 1%of people in the UK and survival rates for heart failure in epidemiological studies are worse than for breast and prostate cancer, with annual mortality ranging from 10% to 50% depending on severity, studies show. 

The NHS spends 2% of its total budget on chronic heart failure and 70% of these costs are due to hospital admissions. Around 1% of emergency hospital admissions involve people with a primary diagnosis of heart failure. 

Commenting on the Pfizer study, Professor Martin Cowie, consultant cardiologist at the Royal Brompton Hospital, London said: “Hospital based specialists appear to be very up-to-date in this survey, but many patients do not see specialists very often. 

“If we are to help people benefit from modern therapies it is vital that every heart failure patient is seen by someone with up-to-date knowledge in the field.

“It is only by cascading up-to-date knowledge throughout the NHS that we can hope to offer patients up-to-date treatment that can improve their lives and reduce the need for urgent admission to hospital.”