Heart failure is a complex clinical syndrome of symptoms and signs that suggest the efficiency of the heart as a pump is impaired. It is caused by structural or functional abnormalities of the heart. Around 920,000 people in the UK today have been diagnosed with heart failure. Both the incidence and prevalence of heart failure increase steeply with age, and the average age at diagnosis is 77. Improvements in care have increased survival for people with ischaemic heart disease, and treatments for heart failure have become more effective. But the overall prevalence of heart failure is rising because of population ageing and increasing rates of obesity.
Uptake of NICE's 2010 guidance on chronic heart failure appears to be good. However, the Department of Health and Social Care's policy paper on improving cardiovascular disease outcomes: strategy noted that prescribing of ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers and aldosterone antagonists remains suboptimal, and that improved use of these drugs has the potential to reduce hospitalisations and deaths caused by heart failure. This update reviewed evidence on the clinical and cost effectiveness of these therapies.
Interdisciplinary working has contributed to better outcomes in heart failure but there is further room to improve the provision of multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) and integrate them more fully into healthcare processes. This update highlights and further expands on the roles of the MDT and collaboration between the MDT and the primary care team.
The Department of Health and Social Care's policy paper on improving cardiovascular disease outcomes: strategy also noted that the proportion of people with heart failure who have cardiac rehabilitation was around 4%, and that increasing this proportion would reduce mortality and hospitalisation. This update recommends that all people with heart failure are offered an easily accessible, exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation programme, if this is suitable for them.