Healthy hearts

We’ve teamed up with health organisations across West Yorkshire and Harrogate to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease and launch a new healthy hearts programme.

healthy hearts logo

The aim of West Yorkshire and Harrogate’s Healthy Hearts initiative is to reduce the impact of heart disease and diabetes and prevent the number of heart-related illness, including heart attacks, every year across West Yorkshire and Harrogate.

Our targets are to:

  • reduce the impact of heart disease and diabetes
  • prevent the number of heart-related illness
  • reduce the number of people experiencing heart disease by 10% across our area by 2021

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels.

It’s usually associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries – known as atherosclerosis – and an increased risk of blood clots. It can also be associated with damage to arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.

The three main conditions are:

  • coronary heart disease (which can cause angina or heart attack)
  • stroke
  • peripheral arterial (or vascular) disease (narrowing of the arteries)

CVD is one of the main causes of death and disability in the UK. In Leeds, we know that more than 103,000 people are affected by high blood pressure (hypertension) – a leading cause of heart disease and stroke, whilst just over 15,000 have an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation). In 2017/2018 there were 673 hospital admissions for people who experienced a stroke in Leeds. Unfortunately, many thousands more are at risk and may not know it.

Causes of CVD

The exact cause of CVD isn’t clear, but there are many things that can increase your risk of developing CVD. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chances are of developing CVD.

Unfortunately some risk factors can’t be changed. For example, the risks of CVD increase as you get older. Men are generally more at risk, as are women after the menopause. Your risk is also increased if you have a family history of CVD, where a close blood relative (parent or sibling) had a heart attack or stroke before the age of 55 (for men) or 65 (for women).

The good news, however, is that many risk factors can be changed, treated or controlled by leading a healthy lifestyle. They include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight or obese, being inactive and diabetes.

Help and support services

Smoking: Stopping smoking is the single most helpful thing you can do to improve your health and the health of the people around you. Every year more and more people quit smoking, and enjoy the better health, wealth, lifestyle and life expectancy this can bring.

Find out about help to stop smoking in Leeds

Overweight: maintaining a healthy weight is important for your overall health as it helps lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. Small, realistic changes to your diet can have an important positive effect.

If your BMI is over 25 or 23.5 if you’re from the BME community, you can benefit from up to 12 free classes with One You Leeds. You’ll find out more about nutrition, eating habits and how to be more active. Starting with a 1.5 hour Getting Started session – and then classes are for 1 hour, every week for 12 weeks. Contact One You Leeds to find your local class.

Find out about weight management services in Leeds

Inactivity: Doing a little more exercise can help reduce your CVD risk factors too – and it’s also good for your mental health.

Physical activity is anything that gets you moving. It can be simple things such as walking, cycling, gardening or even doing housework. One You Leeds offers a range of free classes and taster sessions. They can also offer personal support from a coach who will assess you and help you set goals.

Find out about physical activity classes in Leeds

High blood pressure / high cholesterol / diabetes: Please visit your GP practice if you have concerns of high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes and also accept invitations for the NHS health check.

The NHS health check is for adults in England aged 40-74. It’s designed to spot the early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia. You can expect to receive a text or letter from your GP inviting you for a free NHS health check every five years, if you are in the 40-74 age group without a pre-existing condition.

Find out about NHS health checks

What are we doing in Leeds to tackle CVD?

Within Leeds, commissioners are working with local health providers and public health on a number of projects to tackle CVD. For example, we’re

  • Piloting services within the community – for example in the workplace and local pharmacies – so that enable people can have their blood pressure and pulse tested without having to make an appointment with their GP practice.
  • Working to ensure the that atrial fibrillation and hypertension are correctly diagnosed
  • Working to ensure that people with a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation are on appropriate medication for the condition.
  • Promoting and encouraging people to attend their NHS health check invitation.
  • Commissioning and promoting support services to reduce risk factors, for example, smoking cessation, healthy weight and physical activity services.

Find out what's happening across West Yorkshire and Harrogate