A cheap blood test should be available in all general practices to speed up the diagnosis of heart failure, a parliamentary inquiry has said.
A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heart Disease stated that the NTproBNP test could also save primary care settings up to £3.8 million. The test is relatively inexpensive, at a unit cost of £28. The report found that, despite NICE recommending universal coverage, there were regional variations in the availability of the test.
‘Heart failure is a devastating condition which leaves sufferers constantly short of breath - unable to continue to do the work and activities they once enjoyed,’ said Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation.
The test was developed in the late 1990s by researchers at the University of Dundee, working with the British Heart Foundation. It is used to detect levels of natriuretic peptide in a patient’s blood and either rules out or point towards a diagnosis of heart failure.
Improvements in diagnosis of the condition should be a priority, as many more of the 400,000 people in the UK diagnosed with heart failure have not been diagnosed. When left untreated, the condition has worse survival rates than some cancers.
‘We urgently need to fund more research into heart failure to find new and better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat this cruel condition,’ added Mr Gillespie. ‘But we must also improve quality of life for those currently suffering with this condition and we are keen to work with the Government and NHS to achieve this.’