If you are not known to have CVD, you can start early and help reduce your lifetime risk with the Joint Board of Specialties 3 (JBS3) risk calculator supported by the British Cardiovascular Society and the British Heart Foundation: www.jbs3risk.com. With the help of your GP, you can calculate your actual heart age and see what you can do to gain more years of life without a heart attack or stroke.  Stop smoking, exercise and take a healthy diet and with your GP make sure blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars are under control- ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. The pace of research and innovation in CVD means that, if needed, you will receive the best possible treatment.

Improvements in care

Across the United Kingdom, national programmes such as the Myocardial Infarction National Audit Project (MINAP) and the National Infarct Angioplasty Project (NIAP) have led to dramatic improvements in the care of people who have had heart attacks. People who have suffered the most severe form of heart attack (ST-segment-elevation heart attacks) are now taken immediately to a specialist heart attack centre for a ‘keyhole’ intervention to open a blocked coronary artery. These services are available at any time and offer people with heart attacks a much greater chance of survival, and then returning to an active life.

Surgical alternatives

The treatment of people with heart valve disease has also advanced rapidly, and many elderly patients can now be offered TAVI procedures (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation) to treat obstructed aortic valves. During these procedures X-rays are used to insert a tube (or catheter) into an artery in the leg; a new artificial heart valve is then passed though the tube and implanted in the heart. TAVI procedures avoid the need for more invasive open heart surgery in many cases and are now being trialled in younger and lower risk patients. The early success of this new technique has also encouraged heart specialists to develop non-surgical treatments for diseases of other heart valves including the mitral valve. These new procedures offer hope that future people with heart valve disease may not require open heart surgery.