New analysis from the British Heart Foundation found that 90 percent of coronary heart disease (CHD) patients have at least one other long-term illness.
There are around 2.3 million people living with CHD across the UK, and nine in 10 suffer a so-called multi-morbidity including high blood pressure, diabetes or dementia.
The charity warned that the NHS is traditionally focused on treating individual illnesses as it called for a more personalised approach for people with more than one condition.
BHF’s analysis also found that 57 percent of CHD patients suffer at least three other long-term conditions.
Over half of CHD patients (56 percent) suffer from high blood pressure, 26 percent have diabetes and 14 percent have also suffered a stroke.
Around one in eight (13 percent) also suffer heart failure and one in 20 (5 percent) also have dementia, BHF found.
The BHF said that previous research has shown that CHD patients are more than twice as likely to suffer a stroke, or develop vascular dementia.
The charity has called for more research to improve he understanding of how conditions like stroke and vascular dementia are connected and to develop new treatments for people living with multiple conditions.
Simon Gillespie, the chief executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Over the years we’ve made huge progress in improving survival rates for single conditions like heart attacks with BHF-funded research leading the way.
“However, today’s figures point towards an emerging and very urgent challenge.
“For example, increasing numbers of people are surviving heart attacks, but are going on to suffer strokes or live with additional conditions like vascular dementia.
“These conditions limit people’s quality of life, increase their risk of dying and will place increasing pressure on the NHS and social care system across the UK.
“The NHS has traditionally focused on treating individual illnesses rather than individuals.
“We need a more personalised approach to be taken to the treatment of people living with multiple diseases.
“We can only reverse this trend by funding more research into all conditions of the heart and circulatory system, with a focus on how they can be treated together.
“This type of research is currently chronically under-funded but, with more support, we can fund innovative approaches to tackle these conditions head on.
“This could ensure millions of people don’t have to spend years of their life suffering from several long-term debilitating conditions, or worse, dying from them.”
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, the medical director at the British Heart Foundation, added: “More research is needed to understand the underlying reasons for the connections between different conditions, and why the number of people living with multiple diseases is rising at such speed.
“While factors like an ageing population, and the increasing number of people with conditions like diabetes is contributing, they don’t fully explain the trends we’re seeing.
“It is critically important that we find innovative ways to tackle multi-morbidity, and not just focus on individual illnesses.
“Research in this area is vital if we are to improve lives and create a more sustainable future for the NHS.”
For more information visit: www.bhf.org.uk/connections