An estimated six million people in Britain do not know they have the condition, which trebles the risk of a fatal heart attack. The British Heart Foundation will today urge the NHS to match Canada’s diagnosis rate and test more people in public places, such as shopping centres and sports stadiums. In England, just 34 per cent of people with high blood pressure receive treatment, compared to 57 per cent in Canada.
If the figures matched, this would prevent 115,000 heart attacks, strokes and other cases of heart and circulatory disease every year in the UK, the Foundation said.
Combining this with improved rehabilitation services could prevent 20,000 deaths and 50,000 fewer hospital admissions, scientists say.
The study says: “If we matched Canada’s levels of early detection and treatment for high blood pressure, we could prevent an estimated 115,000 heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events in England over the next decade.
“Primary care is usually held up as the answer to this kind of improved detection, and it does have a vital role to play, particularly through better uptake of the NHS health check. But primary care is over-stretched and there are many other ways of finding the people most at risk so they can get the help they need.
“NHS England, in partnership with bodies such as the Foundation, should explore and implement innovative ways of detecting those at greatest risk, particularly the estimated 5.7 million people in England with undiagnosed high blood pressure.”
The charity warned progress in reducing early deaths from heart and circulatory diseases has stalled in recent years.
Experts fear there could be a “dramatic resurgence of heart attacks and strokes” fuelled by Britain’s obesity crisis and increasing numbers of people with Type 2 diabetes.
Dramatic The Turning Back The Tide On Heart And Circulatory Diseases study added: “There are worrying signs that progress in tackling early deaths is stalling and the number of people suffering could be rising.
“Obesity rates are stubbornly high, driving an increase in the number of people with Type 2 diabetes, as well as high blood pressure and raised cholesterol.
“If left undetected and untreated, these conditions could lead to a dramatic resurgence of heart attacks and strokes.”
The Foundation urged the Government to do more to slash problems such as poor air quality, obesity and smoking rates.
The charity stressed that early diagnosis is crucial, and that the NHS should boost access to the best treatments and improve availability of personalised rehabilitation services.
An estimated 13.7 million adults in England have high blood pressure.
Heart diseases cost the NHS £7.4billion every year in England alone.
COMMENT BY SIMON GILLESPIE FROM BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION
Let’s take diagnosis out of hospitals an on to streets
THE case for preventing heart and circulatory diseases is indisputable.
The British Heart Foundation’s plan for the NHS published today shows that a huge number of families could be saved the trauma of heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses if risk factors such as high blood pressure are better identified and treated over the next decade.
This is not hugely complicated to do – but it will take commitment from health chiefs to act differently. This means taking diagnosis out of the hospital and on to the street, reaching people who might otherwise be missed.
The Government and NHS need to make a common sense shift towards testing for conditions such as high blood pressure in supermarkets, football grounds and leisure centres, as well as GP surgeries and pharmacies.
At the BHF, we think this is key and we are funding £1.5million of schemes looking to do just that.
It is not just high blood pressure where earlier detection could have a big impact. Relatively common conditions such as atrial fibrillation, where the heart’s rhythm becomes abnormal, has been diagnosed in 1.1 million people in England and many more are thought to be undiagnosed.
If left untreated, atrial fibrillation increases the risk of a stroke by up to five-fold.
The key with high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation, as two examples, are that they are easily identifiable and treatable.
But as it stands far too many people are still undiagnosed and pay a heavy price as a result.
As the NHS plans for the next decade, it has a golden opportunity to prevent a vast number of cases of heart and circulatory disease – it is one that cannot be ignored.
Read more here: Daily Express :: Health Feedhappy wheels
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