Northern Ireland: Providing Equal Care For Heart Disease Patients

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Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey has published new standards for the treatment and care of people suffering and at risk from cardiovascular disease.

The 45 standards in the Cardiovascular Framework promise equal treatment and care from the health service for people who currently have or are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease is the class of diseases that involves the heart or blood vessels, including diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Speaking on a visit to the Knockbreda Centre in Belfast, the Minister said: “This framework, setting out the standards people can expect if they suffer from diseases of the cardiovascular system, is the first in a series of service frameworks to be published. It also includes standards relating to the diagnosis and ongoing care and support for people with diabetes.

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“It is a well known fact that diseases involving the heart such as angina, heart attack and heart failure account for one in three deaths here. We also know that 76,000 people suffer from coronary heart disease, while around 60,000 adults are living with diabetes and almost 4,000 people in Northern Ireland are affected by stroke.

“As part of the current budget, I have invested ?12million in cardiovascular services, ?14million in stroke services and ?11million to expand renal capacity. Much of this funding will support the delivery of the cardiovascular framework. I am also investing ?1.54million in general medical services for screening people for excessive alcohol consumption as well as patients who are at risk of developing peripheral vascular disease.”

Outlining the specific services that will be provided within Health and Care Centres and local GP practices, Michael McGimpsey said: “GPs and nurses in local surgeries are nearly always the first health professionals that patients turn to for advice about illness. They therefore have an important part to play in the delivery of this framework.

“GPs and nurses will help people to give up smoking and will provide advice to patients on how to reduce their blood pressure. The local surgery will routinely manage heart failure and stroke patients. GP’s will also provide advice to people who are at risk of developing peripheral vascular disease.”

The Minister added: “Some of the risk factors of this type of disease are hereditary but an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and excessive smoking and drinking are major causes of cardiovascular disease. People can make healthier choices about what they eat and engage in physical activity to reduce the risk of developing serious illnesses.”

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