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Cardiovascular disease prevention

Around 7 million people in the UK are affected by cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is the term for conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels. It is commonly associated with damage to arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.

Heart disease and stroke are the most common forms of CVD. There is a lot that can be done to raise the awareness CVD and measures which will help prevent or limit the impact of it. Nursing staff in many areas of practice are key to helping to improve public understanding and in supporting the prevention of CVD. 

The NHS RightCare Cardiovascular Disease Prevention pathway identifies six high-risk conditions that are major causes of CVD:

  • hypertension
  • high cholesterol
  • atrial fibrillation 
  • chronic kidney disease
  • pre diabetes
  • diabetes.

In response to the increasing prevalence of CVD, the All Our Health campaign advocates that all health care professionals maximise their impact on prevention of avoidable illness, health protection and promotion of wellbeing.

As CVD is the greatest contributor to mortality in the UK, healthcare professionals can make every contact count to encourage behaviour change to reduce the risk, with focus on poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking and excess alcohol. 

Furthermore, the NHS Right Care programme aims to improve people’s health and outcomes and reduce health inequalities. It endeavours to ensure that the right person has the right care, in the right place, at the right time, making the best use of available resources. The RCN advocates that nurses support these aims by offering timely advice and information relating to lifestyle behaviours.  

Useful CVD resources

The following links provides more information on the campaign and resources for health care professionals:

Joint British Societies for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. JBS3 risk calculator. The Heart Age risk calculator (JBS3) provides a novel way for nursing staff and all health care professionals to help people understand how their lifestyle is impacting on their heart and their subsequent risks of developing CVD.

The JBS risk calculator is now available to the public via the NHS Choices website.

King's Fund. Cardiovascular disease in England: supporting leaders to take actions.

Public Health England have an e-learning for health portal on All Our Health: Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. If you haven’t already done so you need to create an e-learning account. This is free of charge. 

Further guidance on CVD disease prevention and the CVD pathway is available at these links:

NICE (2018). NICE Impact Cardiovascular disease prevention. This report considers how NICE’s evidence-based guidance can contribute to improvements in the prevention of CVD. 

NICE (2019). NICE Impact Stroke. This report highlights progress made by the health and care system in implementing NICE guidance. The report focuses on stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation, acute care, rehabilitation including returning to work and thrombectomy.   

NHS RightCare (2016) Cardiovascular disease prevention pathway. This pathway is the first in a series of optimal value pathways on a number of conditions. 

NHS England (2014) NHS Five Year Forward View. The NHS Five Year Forward View sets out a shared vision for the future of the NHS based around the new models of care.

NICE (2014) Obesity: identification, assessment and management. This guideline covers identifying, assessing and managing obesity in children (aged 2 years and over), young people and adults.

NICE (2015) Obesity prevention. This guideline covers preventing children, young people and adults becoming overweight or obese.

NICE (2015) Preventing excess weight gain. This guideline covers behaviours such as diet and physical activity to help children (after weaning), young people and adults maintain a healthy weight or help prevent excess weight gain. 

NICE (2018) Lifestyle and wellbeing.

NICE (2018) Smoking: tobacco harm reduction approaches.

NICE (2018) Alcohol: NICE guidance, pathways and quality standards.

Related news

  • Salt Awareness Week - 9th to 15th March 2020. The campaign this year is called Hide and seek’ it is specifically aimed at shining a light on the hidden salt in the food we buy and to raise awareness on this for the public but also to lobby for food manufacturers to cut the salt content in food. The campaign is useful for health care professionals as part of their conversations with people on eating healthily.

Page last updated - 20/02/2024