Public Health England and NHS England ABC Prevention Plan for cardiovascular disease is a welcome move

15th February 2019Lisa Woodward

Public Health England and NHS England ABC Prevention Plan for cardiovascular disease is a welcome move

Yesterday’s announcement from Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England regarding their ABC Prevention Plan to tackle cardiovascular disease has been strongly welcomed by the International Society of Hypertension (ISH).

At the heart of the PHE plan, is improved detection and treatment of atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and high cholesterol (A-B-C) – the major causes of cardiovascular disease (CVD)- to prevent or delay the onset of CVD, the leading cause of premature death and disability In England.  Currently more than 5 million people are living with undiagnosed high blood pressure in the UK alone, and since it often carries no symptoms, PHE and NHS England want to see more people check their blood pressure so that, where needed, treatment can be started early.

This is something the ISH has long recognised at a global level, because over 10 million people die each year due to conditions caused by high blood pressure, making it the number one risk factor for global death.  This led to their May Measurement Month (MMM) initiative which was launched in 2017.   Managed from the ISH London’s headquarters and run by volunteers around the world, including in the UK, MMM offers free public blood pressure screenings during the month of May, to raise awareness of the issues surrounding high blood pressure (hypertension). Over 2.7 million people were screened during May 2017 and 2018, making this is the largest synchronised screening of any cardiovascular risk factor.  Over ½ million people were identified as having uncontrolled hypertension and can now take the necessary actions to improve their health.

Now entering its third year, MMM will continue to offer free BP screenings to the public, including across the UK, but is now also calling upon policy makers around the globe to increase access to blood pressure screening.

Professor Alta Schutte, President of the ISH said “We are delighted to see the launch of this initiative and hope that other policy makers around the globe will follow the example of PHE and NHS England, by making blood pressure screening more accessible. ”   Chief Investigator of MMM and immediate past President of the ISH, Professor Neil Poulter from Imperial College London added, “We can often reduce blood pressure with known lifestyle changes and existing drugs, but unless people know they have high blood pressure they can’t be treated.  A key objective of MMM is, not only to increase public awareness, but also to collect the evidence needed to help influence global health policy and make screening more widely available around the world”.

The results of the 2017 screening programme were published in May 2018 in the Lancet Global Health [https://bit.ly/2L9ddn2]. A further 40 papers from around the globe will be published before MMM 2019.