NHS Health Check eBulletin

Foreword by Professor Kevin Fenton

Kevin Fenton

Professor Kevin Fenton - National Director, Health and Wellbeing, PHE

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects around 7 million people in the UK and is a significant cause of disability and death, affecting individuals, families and communities.

Although deaths from CVD have fallen, it remains the second highest cause of death in England and can cause considerable disability. It also costs the NHS £6.8 billion every year.

To ensure that we continue to make progress in reducing the number of deaths and years lost to ill health caused by CVD – as well as the financial burden – we must do more to prevent these conditions and to support people to reduce their risk.

Public Health England (PHE) works with the health service across all levels of CVD prevention: primary prevention, which is designed to reduce the instances of disease; secondary prevention, which aims to detect and treat disease as soon as possible to halt or slow its progress; and tertiary prevention, which aims to reduce the impact of ongoing illness.

Over the past few months we have been gathering information on all the work being done across the organisation to address CVD, in order to review our activity and see how we can maximise our impact in this area. This has resulted in the publication of a new framework, Action on cardiovascular disease: getting serious about prevention, which provides an overview of this work and outlines how we provide support to the NHS and wider partners at both national and local level.

The journey towards creating this framework has allowed us to look across the breadth of our activity on CVD prevention and identify opportunities for further integration and shared learning. It has helped us to determine exactly what assets we have across the organisation and how we can bring these together in a more integrated approach in order to maximise value and impact.

We hope that many of the principles demonstrated here will be relevant to those working in local government and local services. Some great examples are already being seen, for example in Leicester City CCG and Medway, and I look forward to hearing about similar work taking place elsewhere, including examples of best practice and lessons learned.

And crucially, the framework details the many tools and guides that PHE provides to support clinicians, local authorities, service commissioners, public health specialists, the third sector and PHE staff in the vital work they are doing to prevent CVD and improve cardiovascular health.

The NHS Health Check programme is of course central to this work in providing risk awareness, assessment and management at scale. Do look out for the new Heart Age tool, launching this month, which now recommends interventions and advice on how to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, and can show how much your heart age could decrease following lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking.


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