NICE guidelines helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes

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NICE guidelines helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes

UK health experts demonstrate how their guidelines on cardiovascular disease help to prevent illness, and call for greater uptake 

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a new report analysing the impact of the guidelines they produce for health professionals in the UK. They’ve found that following their guidelines help to prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels. They also found opportunities for improvement and called for their guidelines to be used more widely to save lives.

NICE show how their guidelines can help to prevent disease

NICE produce guidelines for many health problems and this report is focussed on their guidelines for preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels such as heart disease, stroke, dementia, known together as cardiovascular disease.

The report explores how the NICE guidelines tackle the key factors, known as risk factors, for these illnesses, ranging from lifestyle choices such as smoking and exercise, to long term health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight and diabetes. 

They looked into whether using the guidelines helps to prevent illness and presented examples of when they have been used to great effect. For example, a team of pharmacists in Berkshire worked with GPs to make sure the people they found to have high blood pressure were referred to GPs and were given the assessments recommended by NICE. A year later there was a 12% increase in the number of people diagnosed with high blood pressure, meaning they received the treatment and support they needed to reach their target blood pressure. 

NICE present the case for greater update of their guidelines

The report examined how widely used their guidelines are and found room for improvement. For example, NICE recommend that people with high blood pressure should be encouraged to be more physically active, but only 9% of people with high blood pressure have had their physical activity levels measured in the last year. This shows that health services could do more to encourage exercise, lower blood pressure and prevent disease.  

What next? 

NICE is working with Public Health England and NHS RightCare to make sure the guidelines are part of the UK’s CVD Prevention Pathway, which is there to give decision makers in the healthcare system the tools and resources they need to find and treat people with these health problems.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Blood Pressure UK, comments:
The NICE guidelines are an essential part of disease prevention in the UK. With millions of people living their lives with no idea they have high blood pressure, it’s vital that clinical commissioning groups, politicians, pharmacists and health care professionals pull together and actively search for ways to find them. The NICE guidelines are an excellent place to start”.  

Read more 

Read the impact report from NICE. 

Professor Gillian Leng, NICE’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care, has published a blog with her thoughts about the report, in the National Health Executive. 

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