NICE sets heart failure referral target

GPs should urgently refer cases of suspected heart failure for specialist assessment within two weeks of presentation under new NICE standards published today.

Developed by NICE, the benchmark standard for diagnosing and managing heart failure sets out 13 statements defining high quality care.

GPs should refer suspected cases in patients with prior MI for specialist assessment, including echocardiography, within two weeks.

For those without prior MI, patients should have serum natriuretic peptides measured. Those with high levels must be referred to a specialist, again within two weeks.

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation said: ‘For many people, chronic heart failure can be an incredibly debilitating condition, so it’s vital they receive the best possible treatment and care.

‘Having high quality standards in place will no doubt play an integral part in helping medical staff better diagnose and manage this condition, and drive improvements in care for patients.’

The standard joins eight others previously released, covering chronic kidney disease, dementia, depression in adults, diabetes in adults, glaucoma, specialist neonatal care, stroke, VTE prevention.

Heart failure affects about one in every 100 people in the UK, rising to one in every 15 for those aged 75 and over.

About 30% of patients admitted to hospital for the condition die within a year.

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