New figures have revealed that a government target to provide follow-up care for heart attack victims has still not been met after seven years.

A British Heart Foundation audit involving 83,540 heart attack sufferers revealed that only 34 per cent of heart attack sufferers are later involved in a cardiac rehabilitation programme.

The programmes aim to help victims cope with the physical and emotional fall-out of having a heart attack.

In 2000 the government’s national service framework for coronary heart disease set a target that 85 per cent of heart patients would be referred for a place on the schemes by 2002.

However, the latest figures - published in the National Audit of Cardiac Rehabilitation - suggest that seven years later this target is still not being achieved.

In 2007-08, only 34 per cent of heart attack sufferers attended a cardiac rehabilitation programme.

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Referral to cardiac rehabilitation should be a routine part of treating heart patients, and until this happens they will continue to miss out.”