CEO and Founder of Arrhythmia Alliance
The NHS Long Term Plan identifies key goals to help prepare the NHS and health sector for the challenges of the future.
The NHS Long Term Plan was implemented in 2019 to make the NHS fit for the future with key goals set out for the next 10 years. The cardiovascular section is built up of three key components known as ‘ABC’.
The first is atrial fibrillation (AF), which is the most common form of arrhythmia and cause of AF-related stroke. The second is blood pressure in which we see a close link with those with high blood pressure being at an increased risk of developing AF. Finally, C, is cholesterol; poor diet and obesity also link to this area.
The impact of COVID-19
In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the NHS Long Term Plan has never been more crucial in providing people with the care they need. When it comes to hospital admissions, we have seen a 60% drop in the number of people with heart attack symptoms and 40% decline in those with stroke symptoms visiting A&E that we would at this time normally. This is leading to a significant increase in unnecessary deaths, which could be prevented.
In the same way we did when the pandemic hit, we need to come together to ensure we are a healthier, fitter and more active nation.
For many people, the current pandemic is an extremely anxious time, especially those with pre-existing health conditions. AF is no exception. While suffering with the condition, you are at no greater risk of contracting the virus, however, it is more likely to have serious complications, which will impact survival rates. It is crucial you remain taking your anti-coagulant medication as normal and please seek advice from your healthcare professional where needed.
Detect, Protect, Correct, Perfect
When the Long Term Plan was launched it was widely welcomed. Following the global pandemic, it has become increasingly more so as it highlights the importance of supporting those at high risk and in need of further support.
We – collectively – need to efficiently ‘Detect’ those who are at risk and/or undiagnosed; ‘Protect’ against AF-related stroke with the appropriate therapy; ‘Correct’ the irregular rhythm with the appropriate treatment and, finally, ‘Perfect’ the patient care pathway. This is crucial to help lessen the risks and help people to get the care they need efficiently.
We all have a role to play
Alongside other stakeholders, it is important, as individuals, we all take control of our own health to help support and enable the NHS Long Term Plan to succeed. We can do this through increasing our exercise, looking after our weight and blood pressure and eating healthier diets to help prevent these conditions.
Now, more than ever, you should know your pulse to understand your heart rhythm and recognise early symptoms of irregular rhythms of the heart. This not only potentially leads to the prevention of arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythm disorders) but also AF-related strokes.
In the same way we did when the pandemic hit, we need to come together to ensure we are a healthier, fitter and more active nation. This will help support the NHS so they are better able to help us in our hour of need.