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Cardiac and Heart Care Policies

Chs 2889
  • Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is a leading cause of disability and deaths in NI
  • Around 17 people per day attend the hospital with a heart attack and around 5 people per day die from CHD in NI.
  • Education, early detection, prevention and community support is needed to reduce these numbers and improve health.

Cardiac Waiting Lists

NICHS are extremely concerned about the length of waiting lists in Northern Ireland which are much worse than any other part of the UK. Waiting lists for diagnostic tests such as echocardiograms are unacceptably long, and we have pressed government to address the workforce issues that are part of the problem.

Waiting lists for inpatient and outpatient appointments are also excessive and must be addressed as part of the drive to transform the health service in Northern Ireland.

  • We will continue to raise this issue and call for further action to reduce waiting lists.

Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) - CPR and Defibrillation

Cardiac arrest is a critical medical emergency, where the heart stops pumping blood around the body. In Northern Ireland in a typical year over 1,400 people suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and a defibrillator shock are vital to a person's chances of surviving a cardiac arrest which is reduced by 10% for every minute of delay without early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

NICHS is a long-standing member of the Departments of Health NI Community Resuscitation Strategy Group, chaired by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Services. Our aim is to increase survival for those who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest by having more people in the community trained to perform CPR and to use an automated external defibrillator.

NICHS Strongly supports:

  • The provision of life–saving equipment in the community which is registered on the NI Ambulance Service Website, however NICHS does not itself provide equipment
  • Encourages People to undergo CPR training, but NICHS does not itself provide training. We recognise that training in the use of defibs is not essential. People are encouraged to call 999 who will talk people through how to carry out CPR and use the defib
  • Compliance with NIAS’s ‘Advice and Best Practice Guidance for the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AED’ if purchasing an AED for their organisation or community).

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease is a heart condition or defect that develops in the womb before a baby is born. Over 200 babies are born annually in Northern Ireland with congenital heart disease, approximately 50 of whom will have heart surgery in the first year of their lives. In addition to raising awareness of this issue and funding the Baby Heart Research that looked at which environmental factors increase the risk of a baby being born with CHD, NICHS also campaigns for services to give the baby the best chance in early life including children’s heart surgery.

  • Following a review of services in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland it was decided that an all-island children's heart surgery network would be developed, with most surgery being carried out in Dublin. This was to ensure the best service possible in a sustainable manner.
  • NICHS supported this development and will continue to keep a close eye on this service to ensure our children are receiving excellent care, services and improved outcomes and families are supported during this difficult time in their lives.

Familial Hypercholesterolemia (inherited high cholesterol gene)

Around one in 500 people has FH, an inherited condition that increases cholesterol levels from birth. Most people are unaware that they have it, but if left untreated around half of men affected will develop heart disease by age 50 and approximately 30% of women by age 60.

  • The success of Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke’s campaign to establish a screening service for Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) means that hundreds of lives will be changed and many lives saved across Northern Ireland.
  • The project is run by the Public Health Agency and has been developed and funded in partnership with Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke and the Health and Social Care Board.
  • NICHS continues to take an interest in this new service, supporting its development and roll out across NI