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Early detection could reduce heart disease cases by 115,000

Tuesday 20th November 2018
Improving Englands early detection rates for conditions like high blood pressure to Canadian levels could save huge numbers of lives, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has said.
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The number of heart and circulatory disease cases in England could be reduced by 115,000 over the next ten years, according to new data published by the British Heart Foundation (BHF). 

It has argued this level of improvement could be achieved if NHS England raised the standards of diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure to those seen in Canada. The report notes that the North American country is one of several that has better diagnosis rates than England, alongside nations such as the US and Sweden.

The report noted that progress in tackling high blood pressure in England has ground to a halt in recent years, due to increasing problems such as obesity. This has driven an increase in the number of people suffering with type 2 diabetes,high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

It noted that of the estimated 13.7 million Britons with high blood pressure, it is undiagnosed in 5.7 million cases. This will mean those people are unaware of the need to do anything to change their lifestyles. People with high blood pressure are up to three times as likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. 

Chief executive of the BHF Simon Gillespie commented: "For too long our health system has been to responding to life threatening heart attacks or strokes, rather than detecting and managing the causes. Unless we radically change our approach, progress made in recent years could reverse the gains made over recent decades, and thousands of lives could be lost prematurely."

He added that the potential to improve matters with better diagnosis is an "open goal" that offers "vast" benefits for public health.

In addition, he concluded, the forthcoming publication of a long-term plan for NHS England offers an "incredible opportunity" to set out a "sea change" in attitudes to preventing heart disease. 

Health secretary Matt Hancock recently gave a speech to the International Association of National Public Health Institutes, in which he emphasised the importance of preventing health problems developing in the first place.

He outlined how the government plans to place more emphasis on preventative measures, including tackling obesity in childhood. 

Written by Matthew Horton

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