October is National Cholesterol Month, a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of high cholesterol.  High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and so throughout the month we are shining a spotlight on CVD – one of the biggest health problems we face in the UK.

In this blog, our Medical Director, Professor Julia Newton, describes the CVD national and regional problem, and explains how our Cardiovascular Disease Prevention programme is working collaboratively with healthcare professions to help tackle CVD.

Cardiovascular Disease is a general term for disease of the heart and associated blood vessels. It shortens lives, leading to 1 death every 3 minutes in the UK and causes lots of health concerns that reduce the quality of people’s lives[1]. In addition, those who have CVD were more likely to die from COVID-19 during the pandemic, and those living in the most deprived areas of England are 4 times more likely to die early from CVD compared to those living in the least deprived areas[2].

In the North East and North Cumbria, there are 430,000 people living with cardiovascular disease, causing 690 deaths each month, which equates to 1 in 4 deaths in the region[3]. What’s staggering is that CVD is preventable and if we focus on reducing risk then this would decrease the number of people currently suffering from CVD, and thus reduce the number of people having heart attacks, strokes and dementia.

At the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC), we have been leading a programme of work across England to reduce patient risk of CVD by thinking about cholesterol and blood pressure. We are really proud of the role that the AHSN NENC team has played to support the roll out of this programme over the last two years, and we now have one more year of this NHS England commissioned programme to really make a huge difference to England’s overall risk of CVD. We can do this by raising awareness of the importance of having regular cholesterol checks, making sure that patients found to have high cholesterol are managed effectively, and that patients get the right medicines at the right time in their clinical journey.

For those of you interested to find out more about this work in the region you can read and sign up to our first CVD newsletter. Please get in touch if you’d like to work together or find out more about how we can support you.

[1] BHF. https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/our-research/heart-statistics [Accessed October 2022]

[2] Public Health England (2018) Health Profile for England: 2018 Chapter 5: inequalities in health 29 Public Health https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-profile-for-england-2018/chapter-5-inequalities-in-health [Accessed October 2022]

[3] BHF. https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/our-research/heart-statistics/local-statistics [Accessed May 2022]