Health minister: Months-long waiting times for heart exams “not acceptable”

Heart Association worries that lives are at risk as waiting times for preliminary heart exams approach six months in some areas

People who may have serious heart conditions are waiting up to six months to be examined, according to Hjerteforeningen, the Danish heart association.

Although the recommended waiting time for an examination in case of a suspected heart ailment is no longer than four weeks, people have reported waiting times of two, three and even six months.

Annette Nejrup Hansen, a 53-year-old from Copenhagen, said the three months she waited to be examined only worsened her concern about her condition.

“I only have one heart, so it was impossible for me not to be stressed,” she told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. Hansen was finally diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and is waiting once again – this time for treatment.

Nejrup’s case is one of many pointing to a trend of increased waiting times over the past year to have potential heart conditions identified.

“It goes without saying that having to wait for an examination for a potentially serious, life-threatening heart disease is a source of anxiety and insecurity,” Dr Henrik Steen Hansen, president of Hjerteforeningen, told Jyllands-Posten. “Waiting could actually be fatal in the case of a life-threatening disease.”

Waiting times have increased in the North Jutland, Mid-Jutland and Zealand healthcare regions. One patient on Zealand holds the current record of waiting 29 weeks to be examined.

The health minister, Astrid Krag (Socialistisk Folkeparti), said she would urge regional councils to work to reduce waiting times for heart treatment.

“Waiting 29 weeks for a preliminary heart exam is not acceptable,” she said in a written statement.

Some have suggested that possible solutions to the backlog could be to allow nurses to perform preliminary screening, and for hospitals to purchase more modern equipment to perform heart exams, including ultrasound machines.





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