Half a million missed out on drugs to prevent stroke and heart attack during pandemic

Half a million people in the UK have missed out on drugs to prevent strokes and heart attacks during the pandemic, major research shows. Scientists said the trends could

mean at least 13,000 more people suffer cardiovascular events, including 5,700 more heart attacks and strokes. The British Heart Foundation said it was clear evidence of the

damage caused by the “major disruption” to healthcare since the first lockdown. The research, also involving the Universities of Liverpool and Strathclyde found 491,306

fewer people than expected started taking blood pressure lowering medication between March 2020 and the end of July 2021. During the same period, 316,018 fewer people started on

statins. Both types of medication are routinely offered to those at risk of heart disease - one of Britain’s major killers. Before the pandemic around nine million

people were estimated to be on blood pressure medication, with eight million on statins to cut cholesterol; in many cases, patients are prescribed both. The findings come

amid deepening concern about a surge in heart deaths because of struggles to access GP care and long waits for ambulances. Latest data show more than 21,000 excess heart

deaths in the last nine months - a 14 per cent rise on before the pandemic. Meanwhile, average ambulance waits for heart attack and stroke victims last month reached 93 minutes -

the worst figure on record. Last week, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence issued new guidance, suggesting any patient who sought statins should be given

them, in a desperate bid to tackle the growing crisis.