NHS and PHE step up fight against cardiovascular disease

  • International Medical Press
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A new health drive by NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) aims to prevent thousands of deaths from heart attacks and strokes.

The health bodies say action is needed to improve the detection and management of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atrial fibrillation, which increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.

They have written to all 44 sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) to encourage them to take coordinated cross-system action in cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention. This includes the support of local health initiatives such as healthy workforce schemes and smoking cessation programmes.

It will also involve the wider roll-out of the NHS Right Care CVD Prevention Programme to reorganize local services. The programme aims to boost pharmacy-based testing and treatment, increase uptake of the NHS Health Check, and provide greater access to blood pressure testing and new digital health tools.

A PHE analysis suggests more than 9,000 heart attacks and at least 14,000 strokes could be avoided over the next 3 years if such action is taken.

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of PHE, said the goal is for ‘people to be as familiar with their blood pressure numbers as they are with their credit card PIN or their height’.

‘Too many people are still living in poor health and dying from a largely preventable disease,’ he said. ‘The good news is that we know how most heart attacks and strokes can be avoided. Scaling up CVD prevention locally is a major part of reducing the overall burden on individuals, families and the NHS, and will help us ensure a person’s health is not defined by where they live.’

NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, told the NHS Expo conference in Manchester: ‘Closer working between NHS organizations and local authorities will create new opportunities to get serious about prevention and bear down on 2 of our biggest killers that between them are responsible for 1 in 4 premature deaths.’

The Royal College of GPs welcomed the plans but added that a ‘patient-centred approach’ will be necessary to account for differences in physical, psychological and social factors.