Heart and Circulatory Diseases: Premature Deaths

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 4:47 pm ar 22 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 4:47, 22 Chwefror 2024

First, may I congratulate my hon. Friend Dean Russell, and say how pleased we all are to see him fighting fit and in his place? I also say to Mark Tami that we wish his son absolutely all the best and a speedy return to full health, and to Amy Callaghan—who has had so many health problems of her own—that we all wish her very well and a full recovery. Some very good contributions have been made to today’s debate. I would just like to mention a very, very dear friend of mine who died of a sudden cardiac arrest very unexpectedly aged 55. It was a tragedy for his young family, so I really do understand—thankfully not personally, but through very close friends—how terrible this is.

I will write to Andrew Bridgen and my hon. Friends the Members for Shipley (Philip Davies) and Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) about the statistics. I do not have any information today; I wanted to focus on the Government’s strategy for preventing cardiovascular disease, but I will write to them. As ever, I thank Jim Shannon for his thoughtful remarks, and say to him that I have already been in contact with the Minister in Northern Ireland about the smoking Bill. Meeting with him will be one of my early priorities.

My hon. Friend the Member for Watford is a vocal supporter of the British Heart Foundation. On behalf of the Government, I thank the BHF for all the incredible work it has done throughout Heart Month, including introducing online CPR training that takes just 15 minutes to complete—15 minutes that could genuinely save a life. I also pay tribute to the many other charities that work tirelessly to support people at risk of, or living with, cardiovascular disease.

Over the last decade, the Government have taken significant action to prevent cardiovascular disease and its causes. Just over 10 years ago, we launched the NHS health check, which is our CVD prevention programme. Health checks play a key role in preventing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cases of dementia and kidney disease. The numbers show that, through health checks, people have a lower likelihood of being admitted to hospital for CVD and type 2 diabetes, and for all causes of death one, three and five years after attending a check. So far, well over 10 million checks have been delivered, and data shows more people are receiving checks than before the pandemic. We are now investing £17 million in the creation of a digital NHS health check.

In fact, we are looking at every opportunity to prevent CVD throughout the course of a person’s life. Two years ago, the NHS published its CVD prevention recovery plan, setting out four high-impact areas for every part of the health service to focus on risk factor detection and management. This began by rolling out blood pressure checks in high street pharmacies and helping people measure blood pressure at home, and we are now helping thousands more people detect hypertension earlier. Our forthcoming major conditions strategy will focus on prevention throughout the life course, which is essential in creating a more sustainable NHS. It aims to improve care and health outcomes for those living with multiple conditions and an increasingly complex set of needs.

We are tackling salt, sugar and calories through the voluntary reduction and reformulation programme. Working with industry, we have already delivered reductions of up to 20% in some foods. The second pillar of our prevention plan is smoking cessation. I am proud to be part of a Government who will introduce the ground- breaking smokefree generation, so that children aged 15 and younger will never legally be sold cigarettes. This will be the most significant public health intervention in a generation.

I now turn to managing risk factors. Once we have diagnosed hypertension, it is vital that we properly manage it, and we are doing more than ever before. Among those under the age of 80 with GP-recorded hypertension, 170,000 more people had their condition managed to safe levels by March 2023 compared with the same month in 2020. The NHS has set hypertension management as a key priority, investing over £3 million to bring CVD leadership roles within every integrated care board.

We recognise that outcomes are often worse in different parts of the country, and understanding why variations occur is critical so that the NHS can take the right action. I support it in its launch of CVDPREVENT, a national primary care audit, which will provide data to highlight gaps in diagnosis, identify inequalities and find room for improvement. I am confident that the programme will help integrated care systems make real change in their areas.

A heart attack is a medical emergency, and recognising the symptoms can be a matter of life or death. People’s chances of surviving a heart attack are far greater if they seek care as soon as possible. In August last year, the NHS launched a lifesaving campaign, helping people to recognise the common signs of a heart attack that are often dismissed or ignored, and to seek help by calling 999. I absolutely applaud my hon. Friend for raising his specific symptoms in this Chamber so that others can understand more about what to look out for. Of those who reach hospital early to receive treatment, about nine in 10 survive a heart attack, compared with only seven in 10 of those who do not. That is why raising public awareness is so critical. To improve survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases, the Government have announced a new £1 million fund to expand defibrillator access in the community. We have already delivered over 700 defibrillators towards an estimated total of 1,000.

We are also taking huge strides in making our NHS simpler by providing for patients at home, because we know that patients prefer to avoid hospital if they can be safely supported in their own homes. The NHS programme “managing heart failure @home” is pioneering this approach, and addressing health inequalities as a key aim. Thanks to record funding, we are rolling out up to 160 community diagnostic centres, which will provide echocardiography services by March 2025, and I am pleased to update the House that 153 CDCs are live at this time.