MILLIONS of Brits are at risk of a silent killer due to Covid delays, experts have warned.
Research from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) states that around 30,000 extra heart disease deaths have occured since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
Now doctors have warned that further lives will be lost if NHS waiting lists continue to grow.
Figures from the NHS show that ambulances took an average of 47 minutes and 59 seconds in September to respond to emergency calls.
Despite promising results in some areas of the health service, BHF said patients are still dying needlessly due to difficulties in accessing care and waiting lists.
The experts described a âvast backlog of time-sensitive cardiac careâ, which has grown by almost 50 per cent since the pandemic began to nearly 350,000 people.
It also pointed to a large number of âmissingâ heart patients who may have conditions such as high blood pressure that put them at higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Blood pressure is measured by force at which your heart pumps blood around your body, and the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
If your blood pressure is too high it puts extra strain on your arteries (and your heart) and this may lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive of the BHF, said: âIt is devastating that the ongoing and extreme disruption to heart care has meant that 30,000 more families have lost a loved one.
âToday, many hundreds of thousands of people fear that their heart condition could get worse before they get treatment â potentially stopping them from working or enjoying a full life.
âMany more are completely unaware they now have a condition putting them at a greater risk of early death from a heart attack or stroke.
âThere isnât a moment to lose â the urgent needs of heart patients and NHS staff must be heard.”
During the coronavirus many appointments were cancelled or pushed back in order to help the NHS cope with the demand from the virus.
Since 2020 the NHS has been working through the backlog.
The fact Omicron is a milder strain than other bugs that came before if could help relieve pressure on the NHS – but there is still the winter flu season to contend with.
A spokesperson at the NHS said ‘Covid has inevitably had an impact on care’.
This they added has caused fewer people to come forward.
However they added: “There has been a significant increase in referrals for cardiac care over the last year and staff are already making significant progress on the longest waiters â many of whom are cardiac patients â with the number of people waiting more than 18 months 60% lower in August compared to the same month last year.
âOur national elective recovery plan set out a comprehensive blueprint for tackling backlogs and local teams are working hard to restore their cardiac services to pre-pandemic levels while maintaining a focus on preventing heart disease in the first place, so if you are worried about symptoms please come forward for care.â