A coalition of over 40 organisations led by Public Health England and NHS England, and including the British Heart Foundation, has announced new national ambitions for tackling the major causes of heart and circulatory disease in England. The ambitions published this week seek to improve the detection and management of atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and high cholesterol (or A-B-C).

The ambitions have been designed to support NHS England’s aim in the recently published Long Term Plan of preventing over 150,000, heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases over the next ten years.

National ambitions to tackle causes of heart attack and stroke announced

Detecting the A-B-C

By 2029 the aim is to detection millions of people who are currently living with undiagnosed blood pressure. Just over half of people with high blood pressure have been detected, but the ambition is to increase this to 80%.

In terms of high cholesterol, the aim is to ensure that three-quarters of 40 to 74-year-olds have received a risk check for heart and circulatory diseases, and have had their cholesterol recorded. Fewer than half of those eligible for a formal check have received one. The ambitions also aim to increase the proportion of 30 to 74-year-olds who are treated with statins from 35% to 40%.

Commenting on the launch of the new ambitions, 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.”

The three main risk factors for heart and circulatory diseases can be detected through routine checks in GP surgeries, and also out in the community. People between 40 and 74 are also being urged to get their free NHS Health Check, which helps detect the early warning signs of CVD.

Taking detection out into the community

Commenting on the new ambitions, British Heart Foundation chief executive Simon Gillespie said:

“Heart and circulatory diseases are responsible for one in four deaths in this country, so improved detection of the major risk factors will play a critical role in the fight to save lives. If these ambitions are made a reality, the prospects of millions of at-risk people will be transformed.

“For this to happen we must embrace innovative approaches so those at greatest risk of developing these conditions are identified at an early stage – making it as routine to know your numbers as it is to know your bank PIN number or weight.

“This means taking detection out into the community, making sure those with atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure or raised cholesterol have access to testing in local settings such as a supermarket or pharmacy. Those who do have one of these conditions will then able to get the treatment they need and can be supported to self-manage on an ongoing basis.”