Cardiovascular disease

An older lady checking her blood pressureHeart and circulatory disease, also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD), causes a quarter of all deaths in the UK.

Cardiovascular disease is the single biggest condition where lives can be saved by the NHS over the next 10 years.

Through our Long Term Plan we will identify more people with heart conditions or risk factors such as high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation early, through more effective NHS Health Checks, working with community groups, and equipping NHS staff and others with technology allowing tests to be done quickly and easily.

We will improve survival from cardiac arrests which happen outside of hospital, by working with partners to ensure more people are able to deliver CPR and use public access defibrillators and ensure that thousands more people are able to access cardiac rehabilitation services to help them recover following a heart attack, heart surgery or procedure.

What we plan to do

  1. Improve the effectiveness of approaches such as the NHS Health Check to rapidly treat those identified with the high-risk conditions, including atrial fibrillation (AF), high blood pressure and high cholesterol (ABC)
  2. Support people with heart failure and heart valve disease through increased access to testing in primary care and through multi-disciplinary teams as part of primary care networks
  3. Work with partner organisations to increase the number of people who know their ABC and provide opportunities for the public to check on their health
  4. Increase access to cardiac rehabilitation, a programme of exercise and information to help people recover following a heart attack, heart surgery or procedure
  5. Work with our partners to improve community first response and build defibrillator networks to improve survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest
  6. Expand access to genetic testing for Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH); enabling us to diagnose and treat those at genetic risk of sudden cardiac death

Putting it into practice – Rebecca’s story

Rebecca, 34, felt very unwell following a morning run and went to her local A&E to be checked out. Tests there diagnosed an inherited heart condition called arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC).

“I’d been out for a run and started feeling breathless and dizzy. I began to feel very unwell and went to A&E. After a few tests I received my diagnosis and was told my condition could lead to a cardiac arrest.

“I was so lucky it was spotted early. I stayed in hospital for 11 days, during which time I had an ICD fitted. Now, if my heart starts to beat in a dangerously fast rhythm, the ICD will shock it back to a normal rhythm. It will save my life.”

Find out more

See what the NHS Long Term Plan says about cardiovascular disease.