THOUSANDS of people across the West Midlands have been waiting more than four months for heart procedures and operations, according to the British Heart Foundation.
Latest figures reveal that 5,737 people in the region were waiting 18 weeks or more for heart-related treatments in February 2021, compared to 3,035 people in February 2020.
In Coventry and Warwickshire 442 people were waiting for treatments in February 2021 compared to 191 in February 2020.
Similarly in Birmingham and Solihull 1,679 people were on the waiting list in February 2021 compared to 665 a year ago.
In Herefordshire and Worcestershire, 698 people were waiting for treatments in February 2021, compared to 299 in February 2021.
The BHF says the devastating disruption to heart disease care caused by the pandemic could put lives at risk for years to come.
Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation and consultant cardiologist, said: “What we have seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg.
“No part of the system providing care for people with heart and circulatory diseases has been left undamaged – from life saving prevention, detection, treatment, and recovery, to crucial research that could unlock future breakthroughs and cures.”
BHF say around 131,000 fewer heart procedures and operations were performed in England during the first year of the pandemic and there has been a 180-fold increase in the number of people waiting more than a year for heart procedures, including surgery.
It also said GP referrals to specialist heart doctors in England fell by nearly a third and there were nearly a third fewer ultrasound heart scans carried out to diagnose or monitor people’s conditions in the first year of the pandemic.
Dr Babu-Narayan said: “We face a cardiovascular ticking timebomb for the future that could start to reverse six decades of progress in reducing death rates from heart disease and stroke.
“Averting this disaster will require clear plans that help the NHS to recover, bolster public health, and revive the hard-hit medical research charity sector.
“Getting this right could protect thousands of lives from heart and circulatory diseases for years to come.”