A "SHARP drop" in heart failure admissions has raised fears that thousands of patients could miss out on treatment.

A drop in hospital admissions among heart failure patients in the south east during the first wave of the pandemic could mean that thousands did not get the care they urgently need, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has warned.

Analysis by the leading health charity found that there were 18,485 heart failure hospital admissions in the region between January and September 2019.

However, this fell to 14,795 during the same period in 2020 - a 20 per cent drop.

In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 3,945 heart failure hospital admissions in the region between January and July 2019. But in the same time period last year there were only 3,445 admissions.

This is a drop of 13 per cent.

While some patients may be receiving treatment in the community, the charity fears that others may be missing out, as its Heart Helpline has heard reports from patients who have not been able to access their care.

The leading charity says that patients may be fearful of catching Covid-19 and do not want to add pressure on the NHS, which could be contributing towards a decrease in admissions.

However, a lack of treatment could mean that people living with the condition could experience worse symptoms.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has been an anxious and isolating time for many people living with heart failure. We know the health service is working extremely hard to treat all patients, but our analysis suggests some patients may have fallen through the cracks and become invisible to the system.

“Now, as we come out of the pandemic, is the time to focus on resuming and improving care, so people with heart failure are able to have a better quality of life, for longer.

“To achieve this, every level of the health system needs to be joined up and the best possible information shared to improve health outcomes for people with heart failure.

"The pandemic has made people approach care and treatment in a different, often more digital way, and we need to grasp the benefits for patients and the health service alike.

"At the same time, any shift in the way we deliver care must not exacerbate health inequalities.”