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Cardiovascular Health 2019

Striving for a world without heart and circulatory diseases

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Simon Gillespie

Chief Executive, British Heart Foundation

Heart and circulatory diseases cause pain on every street. Life-saving research has helped halve the number of UK deaths from these conditions, but more must be done if we want to beat heartbreak forever.

Incredible advances have helped reduce the number of people dying from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK. However, new data paints a worrying picture.

For the first time in decades, progress in reducing early deaths from heart and circulatory diseases is stalling.

Over seven million people live with these conditions in the UK, and millions more are at risk due to undiagnosed high blood pressure, diabetes or abnormal heart rhythms, which can lead to a fatal heart attack or stroke.

Accepting this slowdown is not an option. We must do more to prevent the development of these conditions, speed-up diagnosis, and treat people more effectively so they can have better, longer lives.

Over seven million people live with heart and circulatory conditions in the UK.

Research into heart and circulatory diseases is crucial

Cutting-edge research provides endless potential for improving the prognosis for those living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK. Harnessing genetic information as well as advancements in AI could enable earlier diagnoses and personalised care.

Meanwhile, research into regenerative medicine could lead to new treatments for incurable heart failure. These are just some examples of the research programmes that could reaccelerate progress and improve lives.

However, research must go hand-in-hand with stronger commitments to improve care at the bedside and to prevent people from developing these diseases in the first place.

Pushing for change across Government and the NHS

Working alongside the Government and NHS has enabled us to reduce unnecessary heartbreak. We’ve helped put first aid, including CPR, on the school curriculum in England and for schools across Scotland to teach CPR.

In England, Scotland and Wales we’ve successfully campaigned for the introduction of an opt-out organ donation system.

The NHS in England’s Long-Term Plan prioritses tackling heart and circulatory diseases, but we need renewed commitments across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We also need action across the UK to tackle air pollution, the leading environmental threat to heart and circulatory health.

The challenge ahead of us is considerable, but with the public’s support, we can do more to beat the world’s biggest killers.

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