Know your heart health risk stats as well as your PIN number, public urged

Author: Caroline White

Patients and the public in England are being urged to get to know their risk stats for heart disease/stroke as well as their pin number and get a check-up in a bid to cut rates of cardiovascular disease and dementia.

An alliance of health bodies, made up of over 40 member organisations including arm’s length bodies, the third sector, Royal Colleges, clinicians and academics, and spearheaded by Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England, has announced the first ever national ambitions to boost the detection and treatment of atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol (A-B-C) by 2029.

Millions of people don’t realise they are at risk and in need of treatment. Just over half (57%) of those with high blood pressure have been detected (6.8 million people):  the ambition is to increase this to four in five people (80%).

The alliance also wants to ensure three quarters of 40- to 74-year-olds have received a formal cardiovascular disease 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).

And it wants to increase from 35% to 45% the proportion of 40- to 74-year-olds at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease who are treated with statins.

The ambitions include recommendations for decision makers and frontline professionals on getting more people checked and best practice for identifying and treating those already at risk.

And 40-74-olds are also being urged to get their free NHS Health Check, which can pick up early warning signs of cardiovascular disease.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive, Public Health England, said: “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.”

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death and disability in England, killing someone every four minutes. Achieving the national ambitions would help meet the NHS 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: “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.

“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.”