Hundreds of Brits May Be Dying From Heart Problems at Home Weekly Due to Lockdown Backlog
Heart problems. That means the people dying are far younger than those who died of/with COVID
Hundreds of people may be dying from heart problems at home each week, figures suggest, amid fears that many are continuing to suffer from the NHS backlog caused by the pandemic response.
The latest death data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that, for the week ending July 30 in England, there were 1,029 more deaths than normal but only 389 of those were from Covid.
The figures also show there were 748 excess deaths in private homes during the same period – a 33.4 per cent increase on the five-year average. It suggests the majority of excess deaths are now happening at home rather than in hospitals or care homes.
Although the ONS does not release details of the cause of death, the latest data from Public Health England show weekly heart deaths are well in excess of usual levels, with more than 500 extra deaths registered from heart failure, heart disease or circulatory disease for the week ending July 23.
Deaths from diabetes and liver cirrhosis are also slightly up, while deaths from cancer, non-Covid respiratory conditions and dementia are lower than normal.
Charities have consistently warned that a health time bomb was looming because patients could not access healthcare at the height of the pandemic.
Overall, cardiac hospital admissions in England dropped 28 per cent between March 2020 and February this year, which was accompanied by an increase in heart failure deaths at home and in the community.
The British Heart Foundation estimates that cancelled procedures, missed appointments and growing waiting lists contributed to around 6,000 deaths last year.
In a report published this week, the charity warned that patients with heart problems may have “severely deteriorated” during the pandemic. It said changes in patient behaviour, coupled with pressure on the healthcare system, “have combined to create a huge potential burden of unidentified and untreated cardiac disease”.
Deaths at home have continued to remain high even when deaths elsewhere have fallen, with heart problems being the leading cause of mortality at home last year, according to the ONS.
Some experts have previously attributed the recent rise in excess death figures to the hot weather. However, others said it was unusual to see such excess during the late summer.
Prof Kevin McConway, of The Open University, said: “It has been pointed out that some, at least, of these excess deaths were very probably caused by the spell of hot weather in mid-July. I’m sure that is correct, though without information on what actually caused those deaths we can’t be sure exactly how big a role the heatwave played compared to other possible reasons for excess deaths.
“In this country, hazards to health from the weather have been greater in cold spells rather than hot spells.”
Stuart McDonald, the founder of the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group, said: “There is typically much less variation in mortality rates from year-to-year in summer, compared to our more volatile winters. It’s highly unusual to see significant excess mortality in late July. In the last five years, the range is 8,882 to 9,335. That compares to 10,135 this week.”
The ONS figures show that deaths from Covid are continuing to rise, with the recent falls in case numbers not yet seen in the mortality figures. However, health experts said the Government needed to find out why so many deaths were happening at home.
Prof Karol Sikora, a consultant oncologist, said: “One thing that is definitely not spoken about enough is the high number of excess deaths in the home. It’s been going on for months – why? It would be interesting if somebody could ask the politicians about that.”
Dr Charles Levinson, chief executive of the service Doctorcall, added: “The silence around the huge numbers of non-Covid excess deaths in the home is wrong. Why are we not talking about it?”
Source: The Telegraph