A quarter of elderly British people suffer from undiagnosed heart problems and miss out on simple heart treatments as a result, claim heart experts.
During a series of echocardiograms (heart scans), researchers from Newcastle University and the British Heart Foundation found over a quarter (26%) of people aged 87 to 89 are living with an undiagnosed heart condition.
Scientists found that a quarter of elderly Brits have undiagnosed heart conditions
The most common heart condition is the impairment of left ventricular systolic function, which means the heart does not contract strongly enough and leaves sufferers breathless.
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Researchers added that these conditions (if detected early enough) could be treated with simple, cost-effective treatments, such as beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors (a treatment commonly used for hypertension).
"We were surprised to discover just how many older people have heart problems. Many of these people could be treated with drugs that we know work, if their condition were recognised,” said professor Bernard Keavney from the study, in a statement.
Dr Joanna Collerton from Newcastle’s Institute for Ageing and Health was also surprised by the findings and warns that more needs to be done for this “excluded generation”.
"What we have discovered is that very many more people in this age group have heart problems compared to those in younger age groups so we need to think about more inclusive trials or trials focusing exclusively on older groups to ensure that as we face a growing older population we offer them the healthiest future," Collerton said in a statement.
Prof Keavney added that heart scans at home could be the answer to an earlier diagnosis.
“Our research suggests that it might be practical to offer people over 85, who are breathless, an echocardiogram at home, which would reveal these problems. Because this heart problem occurs so often at this age, home checks are likely to be cost-effective.”
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