Women fared worse than men when it comes to appropriate investigations and treatment, the findings suggest, although death rates were similar.
In 2006/7, heart failure accounted for more than a quarter of a million hospital deaths and discharges in England and Wales, equating to around 2.5 million bed days a year and at an annual cost to the NHS of £563 million.
The authors draw their conclusions from a survey of the first 10 patients admitted each month with a primary diagnosis of heart failure to 86 hospitals across England and Wales between April 2008 and March 2009.
During this period, just over 6,000 patients, with an average age of 78, were admitted with the condition. Almost half of these (43%) were women.
At admission, less than a third (30%) were reported to be breathless at rest and under half (43%) as having swollen feet/ankles. These are both diagnostic features of heart failure.
Appropriate investigations were not always carried out, the survey shows, with those admitted to general medical wards less likely to receive these than those admitted to cardiology wards.
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