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The British Heart Foundation has revealed that there have been almost 800 excess deaths in those dying below the age of 65 from heart and circulatory diseases since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that excess deaths in England and Wales for many health conditions spiked during the first peak of the pandemic in March and April. Then, in the 10 weeks following, the numbers fell back to levels seen before the peak.
But excess deaths from heart and circulatory diseases in people under 65 remained disturbingly high even after the first peak - with rates almost 13 per cent higher than usual between May and July.
The British Heart Foundation says that delays in people seeking care, coupled with a reduced access to routine tests and treatments during the pandemic, have likely contributed to the rise in excess deaths. The charity is concerned that figures could get worse due to increasing coronavirus cases and the winter pressures on the NHS, and is now calling for care to urgently be restored and maintained.
Sonya Babu-Narayan, BHF Associate Medical Director and consultant cardiologist, said: “We know there are tragic consequences of the pandemic for patients with heart and circulatory diseases, and these figures further highlight that delays in care are likely contributing to more deaths than we would expect to see otherwise. It’s particularly concerning that we are seeing this trend in people under 65 continue, even after the first peak of the pandemic.
“Despite rising cases of Covid-19, restoring and maintaining planned cardiovascular care must remain a priority. Over time, heart and circulatory problems can become more urgent and delaying this care could risk avoidable harm. It’s also vitally important that people don't let the fear of catching coronavirus put them off seeking medical help. If you think you are having a heart attack or stroke call 999 immediately - every minute matters and prompt treatment saves lives. If you have been waiting for tests or treatment and meanwhile have worsening symptoms or new concerns, get in touch with your healthcare team so that they can reassess your situation. Don't delay because you think hospitals are too busy - the NHS still has systems in place to safely treat you.”
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