STPs encouraged to involve pharmacies in coordinated drive to cut heart attacks and strokes
An analysis presented at Public Health England’s annual conference suggests that if all patients with high blood pressure were identified and treated optimally, it could prevent up to 9,710 heart attacks and 14,500 strokes, saving the NHS up to £274m over three years.
Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England have launched a drive to improve detection and treatment of risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), including more blood pressure testing and treatment in pharmacies and increasing update of NHS Health Checks.
Some 5.5 million people in England have undiagnosed high blood pressure and nearly half a million have undiagnosed atrial fibrillation (AF).
On 12 September, an analysis presented at Public Health England’s annual conference in Coventry suggests that if all patients with high blood pressure were identified and treated optimally, it could prevent up to 9,710 heart attacks and 14,500 strokes, saving the NHS up to £274m over three years.
Similarly, identification and optimal treatment of AF patients could avoid 14,220 strokes, saving the NHS £241m over the same timescale.
Public Health England and NHS England have written to all 44 sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) urging them to take coordinated action to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure and AF. They provided STPs data on the likely prevalence of undiagnosed and untreated hypertension and AF in their areas to highlight the opportunity this presents for prevention.
The majority of STPs have identified prevention of CVD as a priority and are being encouraged to drive improvements through the NHS Right Care programme in partnerships that support widespread implementation of initiatives such as healthy workforce schemes, active transport plans, the Active 10 app (which tracks brisk walking) and smoking cessation programmes.
More testing and treatment in pharmacies, increasing uptake of NHS Health Check, more self-monitoring, and more access to blood pressure testing in community and workplace settings are expected.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, told the conference: “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.”
He added: “Scaling up CVD prevention locally is a major part of reducing the overall burden on individuals, families and the NHS.”
Some areas across the country have already implemented these approaches. In Lambeth and Southwark, pharmacists were commissioned to manage blood pressure and AF, which resulted in an estimated 45 strokes being averted over a 15-month period.
Meanwhile, in West Hampshire, a mix of GP education, diagnostic devices for AF and pharmacist-run anticoagulation services resulted in an estimated 52 strokes being averted in 20 months.
Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203580
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