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Lord Darzi unveils cardiovascular disease prevention programme

29 January 2009

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Health Minister Lord Darzi yesterday (28 January 2009) launched a community-based cardiovascular disease prevention programme in Westminster to tackle the biggest killers and causes of premature death – heart disease and stroke.

“Healthy Hearts and Minds Westminster” will identify the residents with a more than one in five chance of developing cardiovascular disease – thought to be more than 4,400 people – and, under expert clinical supervision, will help them to make lifestyle changes to reduce their chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

Patients recruited to the programme will be offered one-to-one assessments and health advice from a team of cardiologists, nurses, dieticians and physiotherapists. In regular sessions at community venues they will take part in supervised exercise classes and workshops on healthy eating, diabetes and blood pressure management and smoking cessation.

Lord Darzi (pictured) said: ”This strategy from NHS Westminster sets a gold standard for the prevention of heart disease and stroke, which kill 170,000 people every year and affect the lives of more than four million people.

“Most importantly of all, it targets deprived communities that suffer disproportionately from the scourge of cardiovascular disease. I am sure the strategy will help narrow health inequalities in a borough that has some of the richest and most disadvantaged citizens living a stone’s throw from each other.”

Michael Scott, Chief Executive, NHS Westminster, said: “Preventing people from succumbing to cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest priorities we have for the health of the Westminster population. A study published last year provides strong evidence that supporting people to lead a healthier lifestyle significantly reduces the risk of falling prey to this killer disease.”

Dr Adrian Brown, Consultant in Public Health, added: “Heart disease and stroke is the biggest contributing factor to the health inequalities that exist between rich and poor, not only in Westminster with its diverse population, but across the UK. This innovative programme has the potential to make a significant impact offering a robust preventative programme to those most at risk.”

The second stream of the programme will move diagnostic and outpatient services from hospitals into the community. Run by clinical specialists, the community-based services will give patients access to world-class expertise closer to home. NHS Westminster estimates that 90% of care currently delivered at hospital outpatient departments will be delivered by the new community cardiac team.

Dr Jamil Mayet, Chief of Service for Cardiovascular Medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Our patients have told us they want to have routine services as close to home as possible, and would like treatment of more complex conditions in specialist centres.”