Health warning as report finds 6,500 people in north-east Essex are living with undiagnosed serious heart or lung diseases
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Around 6,500 people in north-east Essex are living with an undiagnosed serious heart or lung disease, a new study warns today.
The “worrying” figures prompted health experts to urge people who suffer breathlessness during everyday tasks such as walking, getting dressed or mowing the lawn to urgently see their GP.
The research, published in a new Public Health England report, found 5,177 people in north-east Essex are living with an undiagnosed coronary heart disease (CHD).
It is the highest amount out of all seven clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Essex, as well as the seven CCGs in Suffolk, and means that out of the 17,524 people in north-east Essex estimated to be living with CHD in total, some 30% are unaware they have the disease.
CHD is a condition in which coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart, become narrowed by a gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls.
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Meanwhile, some 1,471 people in north-east Essex are also living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – a progressive lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe – with the condition currently undiagnosed.
A total of 8,814 people have the disease in north-east Essex.
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Catherine Goodall, consultant for health improvement at Public Health England, said: “It is worrying that there are potentially 6,500 people in north-east Essex living with an undiagnosed heart or lung disease.
“People may notice a change in their breathing during activities such as walking up a small flight of stairs, washing and dressing or doing simple tasks around the home like mowing the lawn.
“If they have any concerns we would encourage them to seek medical advice as getting help early rather than waiting until the problem gets worse is vital.”
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, added: “It’s easy to ignore breathlessness as a sign that we’re simply getting old or unfit. But feeling out of breath whilst doing everyday activities, could be a sign of a potentially serious heart condition.
“Common, treatable heart conditions such as coronary heart disease – the cause of heart attacks – heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation can all cause breathlessness.
“That’s why it’s important to take breathlessness seriously and talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Most heart disease is treatable, but it is important to have it diagnosed before it is too late.”
The survey also reveals that nearly six in 10 people in the East of England (59%) would put off going to their GP if they suffered from breathlessness.
Almost one in four (24%) expressed concern they would be wasting the doctor’s time and 23% did not think breathlessness is a serious enough symptom to seek advice from a doctor.
Meanwhile in Ipswich and east Suffolk, a total of 3,120 people are living with an undiagnosed coronary heart disease (CHD).
With a total of 18,925 estimated to have the condition in total, it means around one in six people who have the disease have not been diagnosed.
Meanwhile, some 3,184 people in Ipswich and east Suffolk are living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – a progressive lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe – without the condition being diagnosed.
A total of 9,706 people have the disease in Ipswich and east Suffolk.
Dr Linda Pearce, clinical director of the East of England Strategic Clinical Network, said: “Struggling with everyday activities such as vacuuming or walking can be the first indicator that someone is living with breathlessness.
“This can be uncomfortable and worrying. If this is something that affects you, or you notice it affecting a friend or family member, speak to your GP.”