Breaking the cycle: Tackling late heart failure diagnosis in the UK

Roche Diagnostics partnered with Public Policy Projects, an independent policy institute, to publish a report that shines a light on the serious burden that late heart failure diagnosis in the UK places on patients and the wider healthcare system. 


Heart failure has a higher mortality rate than many cancers – 50% of patients die within 5 years of their diagnosis.1


Around 1 in 3 of heart failure patients are initially misdiagnosed. This rises to 43.9% in those under 45.2


Patients with breathlessness experience an average 2 year wait for diagnosis.4


80% of people were diagnosed in hospital, despite 40% presenting with heart failure symptoms earlier.3


Only 18.3% of patients with heart failure had received an NT-proBNP before being diagnosed, meaning NICE Guidance is not being adhered to.4

heart monitor

154,000 people were waiting for an echocardiogram in England in December 2022.5

Action is needed now to break the cycle of late diagnosis and early diagnostic testing is key to achieving this.

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Help transform patient outcomes and help NHS budgets go further 

Our report provides recommendations for change at a national, regional and local level that can transform the diagnostic pathway for heart failure patients, delivering tangible benefits for the healthcare system and the hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who are diagnosed with heart failure every year. 

Read our report for policy recommendations at a national, regional and local level.


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The ‘Breaking the cycle: Tackling late heart failure diagnosis in the UK’ report features forewords from renowned heart failure specialists and experts


This report is an important milestone in the journey of improvement our diagnostic services are on. It highlights the benefits of earlier diagnosis for patients and the wider health system, and clearly sets out recommendations for all those involved in the treatment and care of patients presenting with heart failure symptoms

SIR MIKE RICHARDS Chair of the National Screening Committee and author of the independent review into NHS diagnostics capacity: Diagnostics: Recovery and Renewal.


Early detection of heart failure is key for patients and their families to ensure life-saving treatments are delivered sooner, hospitalisation is prevented, and quality and quantity of life is improved.

DR CLARE TAYLOR MBE Heart Failure Researcher, General Practitioner 


A heart failure diagnosis is a devastating one and unfortunately, most people have their diagnosis confirmed in A&E after years of living with unresolved symptoms which have been misdiagnosed or were left to worsen. A diagnosis doesn’t have to mean the end for people, however. Instead, it is the vital first step in identifying treatment options to allow the condition to be managed appropriately, leading to people living better with their heart failure.

NICK HARTSHORNE-EVANS Heart Failure patient, Founder and CEO, The Pumping Marvellous Foundation


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Key facts and figures
at a glance


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This latest report follows on from 'Heart Failure: The Hidden Costs of Late Diagnosis', a report published in 2020 by Roche Diagnostics and leading heart failure charity the Pumping Marvellous Foundation, which highlighted the staggering reality of some patients’ experiences in their journey to a heart failure diagnosis.

  1. Taylor et al, 2019. Trends in survival after a diagnosis of heart failure in the United Kingdom 2000-2017. Population based cohort study. Available on
  2. Censuswide, Data from survey of 625 heart failure patients analysed for this report. Data file, accessed 11 August 2020
  3. NHS England, 2019. NHS Long Term Plan. Ch3, Cardiovascular disease. Available on
  4. IQVIA Medical Research Data, IQVIA Ltd, incorporating data from THIN, a Cegedim database, 2011 – 2021
  5. NHS England, 2022. Diagnostics Waiting Times & Activity. [Last accessed: March 2023]