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Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. CVD includes all heart and circulatory diseases, such as coronary heart disease, angina, heart attack, congenital heart disease, hypertension, stroke and vascular dementia. Having an ageing population means that if we do nothing the number of heart attacks and strokes will increase.  

Low diagnosis rates in England mean that:

  • 5 million people will have undiagnosed high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • 40% of people with diagnosed hypertension are not treated to the NICE 140/90 target
  • half of all people with known atrial fibrillation (AF) who have a stroke are not anticoagulated.

Fewer than one person in 10 survives an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) in the UK and a national network of community first responders and defibrillators will help save up to 4,000 lives each year by 2028. In addition, only 53% of people are referred to cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack/ cardiac surgery and only 33% of those with heart failure.

Working with partners our aim is to:

(1) Prevent high risk cardiovascular conditions by: 

  • implementing the CVDprevent audit 
  • supporting clinical pharmacy to review and optimise medication to increase the number of people treated for the high-risk CVD conditions. 

(2) Improving survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) by supporting: 

  • community campaigns with the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training to improve public response to OHCA 
  • connecting ambulance services to the national defibrillator network 
  • improving heart attack pathway. 

(3) Improving diagnosis of heart failure and heart valve disease by supporting: 

  • diagnostic capacity and capability in primary care to improve heart failure and heart valve disease diagnosis 
  • earlier detection of heart failure through earlier recognition and assessment (in primary care or through diagnostic networks). 
  • rapid access to heart failure nurses following hospital admission (more nurses, better supply and credentialing implicated) 
  • better access to primary care echo.

(4) Increasing cardiac rehabilitation by supporting: 

  • an increase in the availability of cardiac rehabilitation, and testing combined models with pulmonary rehabilitation 
  • digital approaches to education and self-management 
  • upscaling and marketing of cardiac rehab to improve uptake.

(5) Support the expanding genetic testing for familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) from 7% to 25% of putative phenotypes by 2024. 


(6) Support salt and harm reduction (ABC, alcohol, smoking, activity etc.) to contribute to 150,000 reduction in CVD endpoints. 


Find out more about our Population health and prevention programme.

The Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) elearning programme has been developed to provide an overview of CVD care across the entire patient pathway and promote better patient care. It aims to provide all health and social care professionals and multidisciplinary teams with the appropriate level of knowledge, skills and experience they need to deliver effective CVD prevention and care to people with CVD, and at risk of CVD.

The Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) Toolkit aligns to the NHS Long Term Plan and provides learners with a comprehensive list of online resources that can be used to support workforce upskilling, training and development.

The aim of this guide is to provide learners with a comprehensive list of available resources that can be used to support cardiovascular workforce upskilling, training and development. The toolkit addresses a national gap in a central portal for CVD resources.