National drive to prevent cardiovascular disease set to saves lives in Suffolk and north-east Essex

Dr Mark Shenton. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Dr Mark Shenton. Picture: SIMON PARKER - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of lives could be saved across Suffolk and north-east Essex under a new national drive to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The initiative led by Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England aims to introduce more opportunities for people to undergo regular health checks in order to spot problems early.

If gone unnoticed, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atrial fibrillation can lead to cardiovascular disease, which is the country’s biggest killer.

By ramping up efforts to diagnose and treat these conditions as soon as possible, bosses say up to 180 heart attacks and 580 strokes could be avoided across Suffolk and north-east Essex over the next three years.

PHE and NHS England have written to all 44 sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs), including the one for Suffolk and north-east Essex, urging them to put cardiovascular disease prevention high on their agenda.

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket and chairman of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The STP offers a real opportunity for closer working with our health partners to further reduce stroke and heart attack mortality rates.

“Suffolk already has the lowest level of premature stroke mortality compared to similar areas in the country.

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“It is also important we continue to encourage people to make the right lifestyle choices to reduce their chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

“As part of this work GPs took the streets of east Suffolk last month, talking with people about local health issues and with our partners at OneLife Suffolk offered free blood pressure checks.”

Under the plans, bosses want blood pressure tests to be offered in more community settings and workplaces.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said: “High blood pressure is the invisible killer. We want people to be as familiar with their blood pressure numbers as they are with their credit card PIN or their height.”

Healthy living will be promoted through schemes such as the Active 10 app, which gets people taking a brisk 10-minute walk every day, as well as healthy workforce schemes, active transport plans and smoking cessation programmes.

Leaders also hope to improve uptake of the NHS Health Check, which is a health MOT offered to people aged 40 to 74 every five years, while more testing and treatment will be made available in pharmacies.

Sir Bruce Keogh, the national medical director of NHS England, said: “Cardiovascular disease kills more people in this country than anything else.

“We know how to treat the resulting heart attacks and stroke, but everyone knows that prevention is better than cure. Prevention of these devastating consequences is everybody’s business from our schools, to the food and tobacco industries, to local authorities and the NHS.”

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