Improvements in detection and condition management could prevent “thousands” of heart attacks and strokes, Public Health England said as it called for greater coordination of services such as in-pharmacy testing and NHS Health Checks.

PHE highlighted parts of the country that have successfully run coordinated campaigns, including: West Hampshire, where GP education and diagnostic devices were complemented by pharmacist-run anticoagulation services, preventing an estimated 52 strokes; and Lambeth and Southwark, where commissioning pharmacists to manage blood pressure and atrial fibrillation (AF) prevented an estimated 45 strokes over 15 months.

Millions not diagnosed

Coordinating CVD efforts

New analysis from the health body suggests that improvements in the detection and care of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atrial AF could prevent over 9,000 heart attacks and at least 14,000 strokes over the next three years. 5.5 million people in England have undiagnosed high blood pressure and almost half a million have undiagnosed AF, says PHE.

PHE has called on sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) to coordinate their CVD efforts. PHE and NHS England have written to all 44 STPs to share data for their local areas and highlight opportunities for intervention. The majority of STPs have identified CVD prevention as a priority, says PHE. 

National medical director for NHS England Sir Bruce Keogh said: “Closer working 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.” 

Widespread implementation

STPs can achieve on cardiovascular health targets in two key ways, PHE suggests – firstly, through partnerships that support widespread implementation of health initiatives such as smoking cessation programmes, and secondly, through ensuring the NHS Right Care CVD Prevention Programme is implemented across a much wider area.

The NHS Right Care programme looks at organising local services to ensure more patients get the treatment they need, including more testing and treatment in pharmacies and increasing uptake of NHS Health Checks.

Dr Matt Kearney, the NHS’s national clinical director for cardiovascular disease prevention, said: “What the NHS Right Care programme and the STP partnerships bring is an opportunity for the NHS to improve treatment of the high-risk conditions, at scale across an area, and prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes.”


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