Analysis: Simple heart treatment could help many elderly, tests reveal

ELDERLY people are missing out on simple heart treatments that can prolong and improve their quality of life, health experts say.

Researchers who studied a group of people aged 87 to 89 found a routine test revealed a quarter of them had undiagnosed heart problems that could be treated with established, cost-effective treatments.

The study, carried out by Newcastle University and funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), found many of the people suffered from breathlessness, but had never been diagnosed with a heart condition.

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The researchers visited almost 400 elderly people in their homes and carried out echocardiograms, a type of heart scan.

They found 26 per cent of them had a previously undiagnosed heart problem that would be treatable with commonly prescribed drugs such as beta-blockers.

BHF’s Professor Bernard Keavne said: “We were surprised to discover just how many older people have heart problems. Many could be treated with drugs that we know work, if their condition were recognised.

“With heart failure, prevention is definitely a priority. Older patients coming into hospital with worsening heart failure is one of the largest sources of expenditure for the NHS.”