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NHS announces new opportunity to prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes

by Léa Legraien
13 September 2017

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The NHS has revealed a new drive to save thousands of people from heart attacks and strokes with the support of Public Health England (PHE).

The plan comes after the release of a new PHE study suggesting that more than 9,000 heart attacks and up to 14,500 strokes could be prevented within the next three years through better management of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atrial fibrillation.

In the UK, around six million people are living with undiagnosed hypertension and almost half a million have atrial fibrillation. If untreated, both can increase the risk of serious conditions, such as strokes, heart attacks or dementia.

Sir Bruce Keogh, the National Medical Doctor of NHS England, believes that closer collaboration between NHS organisations and local authorities will ‘create new opportunities to get serious about prevention and bear down on two of the biggest killers, between them responsible for one in four premature deaths’.

Based on the analysis, preventive measures could save the NHS up to £515 million.

The NHS and PHE have contacted the sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs), covering all 44 areas of England, to make them aware of the actions that can be taken to avert the conditions.

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, said: ‘Too many people are still living in poor health and dying from a largely preventable disease.

‘Scaling up cardiovascular disease CVD prevention locally is a major part of reducing the overall burden on individuals, families and the NHS, and will help to ensure a person’s health is not defined by where they live.’

To optimize the treatment of these high-risk conditions, STPs could call on clinical leaders to increase blood pressure testing access in the workplace and encourage local authorities to carry out more health checks in communities.  

NHS RightCare, a national NHS England programme committed to delivering the best care to patients, will help GPs and local areas to offer more testing and treatments alongside new digital tools, such as One You Heart Age Test, an online test that allows people to check their heart age, or Active 10, an exercising app.

Dr Matt Kearney, the NHS’s National Clinical Director for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, said: ‘We know that there are many ways that people can prevent heart attacks and strokes – by being more active, not smoking and having a healthy diet.

A free NHS Health Checks is already available to people aged 40-74, without pre-existing conditions, to spot early sign of various conditions including stroke and heart disease.