25 February 2019

Public Health England and NHS England unite to combat cardiovascular disease

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Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England are teaming up in what is the first ever national attempt at improving the detection and treatment of atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and high cholesterol (A-B-C) – three major causes of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

There are around 7 million people living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK: 3.5 million men and 3.5 million women. 

Why is this coalition so important?

Public Health England and the NHS coming together to combat CVD is the first big step to changing the 'heart health' of Britain.

Detecting and treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atrial fibrillation can prevent or delay the onset of CVD. However, the early symptoms of CVD seldom show, meaning millions are unaware they are at risk and in need of treatment. There are in excess of 5 million people currently living with high blood pressure undiagnosed in England alone.

By 2029, PHE and NHS England aim to:

  • to detect and treat millions more people living with high blood pressure who are currently undiagnosed; currently, just over half (57%) of those with high blood pressure have been detected (6.8 million people) – the ambition is to increase this to 4 in 5 people (80%)
  • to ensure three quarters (75%) of 40- to 74-year-olds have received a formal CVD risk check and have had their cholesterol levels recorded; currently, fewer than half (49%) of those eligible for a formal check have received one (7.6 million people)
  • to increase from 35% to 45% the proportion of 40 to 74-year-olds at high risk of developing CVD who are treated with statins.

How can A-B-C conditions be tested? 

The A-B-C conditions can be detected through routine checks across community and healthcare settings.

People aged between 40 and 74 are being urged to get their free NHS Health Check, which helps detect the early warning signs of CVD. The ambitions seek to build on the vital work being carried out by local authorities to deliver the check, which has reached millions of people.

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive, Public Health England, said:

"Know your numbers and save your life. We know our PIN numbers but not the numbers that save our lives. Thousands of heart attacks and strokes can be prevented by more people knowing their blood pressure and cholesterol numbers and by seeking help early. Prevention is always better than cure."

What is CVD? 

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels.

CVD is the leading cause of premature death and disability in England, causing a death every 4 minutes. Achieving the national ambitions would help meet the long term plan target to prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and cases of dementia within a decade.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS Medical Director, said:

"This shows the fantastic commitment being made by this coalition to identify and treat heart disease and stroke which are top priorities in the NHS Long Term Plan. These ambitions will save thousands of lives by identifying and targeting people most at risk of these preventable conditions."

Who is most likely to develop CVD? 

The ambitions also commit to reducing the health inequalities associated with CVD, with people in the most deprived communities four-times more likely to die prematurely from CVD than those in the least deprived. Health inequality data on each of the high-risk conditions and tailored plans to address them will be published by 2021.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

"Prevention is at the heart of our vision for improving the health of the nation, empowering people to stay healthy, not just treating them when they’re ill. Almost half of those with high blood pressure are going about their daily lives without it being detected or treated. Millions of people are needlessly at risk of heart attacks or strokes when it could be prevented. So I want to help more people take the time out to protect their future health and get checked.

"The NHS Long Term Plan has a target to prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and cases of dementia within 10 years. By coming together across the system to agree these ambitions, we have set the goal posts for how we will achieve this target and continue our fight against the nation’s biggest killer."

Read 'Will Matt Hancock's 'Prevention Plan' increase life expectancy?'

 

Sources:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cardiovascular-disease/

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ambitions-set-to-address-major-causes-of-cardiovascular-disease