Raising the bar in CVD prevention
In his first statement, Dr Matt Kearney, the first national clinical director for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention sets out his vision for cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention. It is estimated that about two thirds of premature deaths (< 75 years) could be prevented by tackling the major risk factors – with about one in four of these premature deaths being caused by CVD.
Dr Kearney noted two significant opportunities for primary care:
- Primary care practitioners see about a million patients a day – providing an excellent opportunity to support individuals change their eating, exercise and lifestyle habits (provided the right systems and resources are in place).
- There remain significant gaps in the primary care system in how the major physical risk factors for CVD are detected and treated. For example, 4 in 10 people with hypertension remain undiagnosed.
Dr Kearney said that to improve NHS action in preventing CVD at a time of major financial constraints, things must be done differently by front line primary healthcare staff and by building new partnerships.
These should include:
- Systematic approaches to improve primary care’s role in primary prevention. For example, community wellbeing and social prescribing initiatives to reduce GPs workload and provide patients with more systematic and expert support for behaviour change.
- Systematic approaches to improve primary care’s role in secondary prevention. For example, supporting practices to reduce unwarranted variation in detection and management of high risk conditions such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation, raised cholesterol and diabetes. Many successful programmes driven by local primary care are being implemented as in Bradford and Tower Hamlets. The NHS Health Check and new Diabetes Prevention Programmes offer a systematic approach to reach people with undiagnosed risk factors.
- NHS support for population approaches to prevention. There is real opportunity for GPs and others in the NHS to offer clinical leadership and support in developing the Sustainability and Transformation Plans for CCGs and local authorities.
Dr Kearney is working closely with the national clinical directors for Heart Disease (Professor Huon Gray), stroke (Professor Tony Rudd) and obesity and diabetes (Professor Jonathan Valabhji) in preventing CVD . Dr Kearney will be speaking twice at the Issues and Answers in Cardiovascular Disease conference in Nottingham, 4-5 November 2016 More information NHS England names 18 new national clinical directors. Health Services Journal 4 April 2016 Prevention is key to the fight against heart disease. NHS England 5 April 2016