Three-quarters of people with heart failure could be diagnosed earlier through blood test, researchers say 

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  • A study claims that 75 percent of heart failure cases can be diagnosed early
  • Every year, 200,000 Britons’ hearts are found to be unable to pump blood.
  • Researchers at Oxford University say a natriuretic peptide test could result in earlier diagnosis and treatment for thousands of patients

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Researchers stress that more than 75 percent of people with heart failure could be diagnosed sooner if GPs give them a simple blood test.

Every year the hearts of about 200,000 Britons are found to be unable to pump blood properly. In 2010 regulators recommended a simpler blood test that could help doctors tell if a patient’s heart is not strong enough.

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A team from Oxford University analyzed data from 1,400 GP practices to see how test use varied over 14 years.

In 2004, only 0.4 percent of people with heart failure had the test before diagnosis. By 2017 that rose to 23.3 percent – but scientists said further improvements needed to be made.

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Every year the hearts of about 200,000 Britons are found to be unable to pump blood properly. In 2010, regulators recommended a simpler blood test that could help doctors tell if a patient’s heart isn’t strong enough.

The natriuretic peptide test measures hormones that help control blood volume. Dr Claire Taylor, an Oxford lecturer, said heart failure affects a million Britons and the study shows ‘missed opportunities for us to diagnose too soon’.

Dr Taylor said: ‘As a GP I often see patients with heart failure.

‘This is a serious, life-threatening condition that affects around one million people in the UK alone.

‘There are 200,000 new cases each year, and about 80 percent of these patients are diagnosed only when they are so unwell that they require hospitalization.

‘As GPs we can do a simple blood test in primary care which tells us if there is a possibility of heart failure. If it is elevated, we may be referred for a heart scan and evaluation by a cardiologist.

‘The detection rate of heart failure remained the same in our study over a 14-year period, suggesting that there are still missed opportunities for us to diagnose sooner through testing.

The natriuretic peptide test measures the concentration of specific hormones that help control blood volume.

The natriuretic peptide test measures the concentration of specific hormones that help control blood volume.

‘There are many treatments that improve both quality of life and survival, but we need to deliver them first so that patients benefit sooner and avoid hospitalization, which is why this trial is so important. .’

The natriuretic peptide test measures the concentration of specific hormones that help control blood volume.

When the heart is not strong enough, it releases more of these hormones as a result of the pressure to work harder, which can be a sign of heart failure.

The findings of the study, published in the European Heart Journal, also showed that most of the trials were conducted in patients with more advanced heart failure.

This, the authors say, suggests that progress has not been made in testing early enough to receive a timely diagnosis, and that many patients with more subtle clinical symptoms and signs are not currently being tested. could.

First author Andrea Rolfe said: ‘We saw more NP testing in older and more socially disadvantaged groups than we expected because these groups are generally at higher risk of heart failure.’

The researchers conclude that more NP tests than GPs are needed to prevent hospitalization and help diagnose heart failure at an earlier, more treatable stage, to increase quality of life and survival rates. to do.

He said testing should be done in people with symptoms of heart failure such as breathlessness, fatigue and swollen ankles.

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