More people to be given statins under plans to reduce heart attacks and strokes

Drugs to lower blood cholesterol will be given to more adults under new public health measures to prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks and strokes.

Health officials want widen the use of statins, increase the number of people who have had their cholesterol recorded, and detect and treat millions more people living with undiagnosed high blood pressure in England.

National targets have been announced by a new coalition of organisations, led by NHS England and Public Health England (PHE).

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The group hopes to improve detection and treatment of the major causes of cardiovascular disease. The NHS long-term plan aims to prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes, and cases of dementia within the next 10 years.

The measures could benefit thousands of people in parts of Yorkshire and Humber where death rates from heart and circulatory diseases are far higher than the national average.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Almost half of those with high blood pressure are going about their daily lives without it being detected or treated.

“Millions of people are needlessly at risk of heart attacks or strokes when it could be prevented. So I want to help more people take the time out to protect their future health and get checked.

“By coming together across the system to agree these ambitions we have set the goal posts for how we will achieve this target and continue our fight against the nation’s biggest killer.”

Abnormal heart rhythm, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are among the major causes of cardiovascular disease.

Currently, 57 per cent of people with high blood pressure have had the condition detected, but NHS England and PHE want to increase this to 80 per cent by 2029.

A target has also been set of ensuring three-quarters of 40 to 74-year-olds have received a formal cardiovascular disease risk check and have had their cholesterol recorded.

At the moment fewer than half, some 49 per cent, of those eligible for the assessment have had one, PHE said.

Health officials also hope to boost the proportion of 40 to 74-year-olds at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease who are treated with statins, from 35 per cent to 45 per cent.

Statins work by lowering cholesterol levels and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which PHE said is the leading cause of premature death and disability in England.

The new coalition is made up of more than 40 organisations, including the British Heart Foundation, Stroke Association and several universities.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Heart and circulatory diseases are responsible for one in four deaths in this country, so improved detection of the major risk factors will play a critical role in the fight to save lives.

“If these ambitions are made a reality, the prospects of millions of at-risk people will be transformed.”