System Efforts to Improve Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the cause of a quarter of all deaths in the UK, and the largest cause of premature mortality in deprived areas.

The NHS Long Term Plan identifies CVD as a clinical priority and the single biggest condition where lives can be saved by the NHS. The Plan sets the ambition to prevent over 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases over the next 10 years.

Cardiovascular Disease is an umbrella term for any condition which affects your heart or circulation. This can result in heart attack, angina and stroke, amongst many other conditions. There are several risk factors which can lead to, or increase someone’s chances of developing CVD, such as:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being overweight or physically inactive
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Your age or sex
  • Risk Factors
  • High blood pressure (also known as Hypertension)
  • High cholesterol

By supporting people to make healthier lifestyle choices and identifying and managing risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, we can largely prevent CVD and save lives. For example, by ensuring an additional 10,000 people receive appropriate treatment for their high blood pressure, we can prevent 152 CVD events (heart attacks and strokes), 49 deaths and a combined spend of £1.8 million.

Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Integrated Care System have implemented an initial 12-month programme of work to improve and integrate CVD Prevention across the county. The programme will focus on the promotion of healthier lifestyle choices, physical health checks (especially for vulnerable populations) and improved case-finding and management of clinical risk factors (such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and atrial fibrillation).

Alongside services offered by local Council’s Lifestyle and Outreach Teams and local Social Prescribing Networks, the ICS has been leading the implementation of the National Prevention Programmes including the NHS Digital Weight Management Programme, Alcohol Care Teams and the Tobacco Dependency Programme.

Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin are leading the way across the Midlands, with GP Practices having made a total of 710 referrals to the NHS Digital Weight Management Programme by July 2023. Our local Trusts have also successfully implemented Tobacco Dependency Teams within Acute Inpatient, Maternity and Mental Health Inpatient Services, where people are supported to quit smoking and provided with an onward referral into Community Pharmacy or Local Authority services to maintain their quit attempt.

Significant efforts are also being made system-wide to offer lifestyle information and health checks out in the community, such as the offer of blood pressure checks in our most deprived areas and in local farming communities.

In addition to closely aligning with physical health transformation, the CVD Prevention Programme will cross over physical and mental health pathways and assist in improving outcomes for the people with Severe Mental Illness (SMI).

People with SMI often experience poor physical health as well as poor mental health and it is estimated that for people living with SMI, 2 in 3 deaths are from physical illnesses that can be prevented, with one of the major contributors being Cardiovascular Disease. Compared to the general population, people aged under-75 in contact with mental health services in England have death rates that are 3.3 times higher for Cardiovascular Disease, resulting in an average 198 more deaths per 100,000 population in adults with SMI.

Dr Matthew Bird, a local GP, has recently been appointed as the CVD Prevention Clinical Lead to help drive forward this agenda and support the wider system to make targeted improvements in reducing CVD risk and contributing to an overall improvement in people’s health.

Matt says: “It has been a privilege to take up the CVD prevention role. It has been fantastic to meet all the different people working to reduce CVD throughout Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin.”

The CVD Prevention Programme will be aligning key messages across both NHS and Public Health to encourage people to read up about the small steps they can take to improve their overall health, take up local support offers and get on board with the national Know Your Numbers Campaign and beyond.

Above, you can hear Dr Matthew Bird talking all about the importance of Knowing your Numbers on BBC Radio Shropshire.


If you would like to read up more about Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), please visit:

Blood Pressure UK – Know Your Numbers

Page last updated 8 September 2023