Political parties must commit to tackling heart and circulatory diseases

6 November 2019        

Category: BHF Comment

The next Government must make heart and circulatory diseases a priority to help the millions affected by them in the UK.


The statistics paint a stark picture. One in four people in the UK die from heart and circulatory diseases– which include heart attacks, strokes and vascular dementia.

However, the upcoming general election is an opportunity to change this now. The NHS has already identified heart and circulatory diseases as the biggest area where the most lives can be saved or improved in the next decade if action is taken.

We are now calling on all political parties to put three key pledges at the heart of their election manifestos to help transform the lives of the 7.4million people living with heart and circulatory conditions in the UK.

These are:

  • To maintain the UK’s position as a research superpower to accelerate advances across the spectrum of heart and circulatory diseases;


  • To create healthier environments, where the healthy choice is the easy choice; and


  • To transform the detection and treatment of heart and circulatory diseases and support people living with these conditions.


Specifically, we want the next Government to commit to investing at least 2.4% of GDP in research and development. It’s also vital that any future UK immigration system supports a world-class research workforce, and that the UK continues to participate in EU funding programmes for the medical research sector to maintain our position as a research superpower.

To create healthier environments for everyone living in the UK, the BHF is also urging the next Government to introduce health-focused air quality legislation by adopting World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines into UK law.

A comprehensive plan for tackling rising levels of obesity, a strategy to address health inequalities, and further investment for local authorities to fund public health services would also go far to reducing the devastating consequences of heart and circulatory diseases in the UK.


The variation in treatment for conditions such as heart failure must also be addressed, in addition to improving the uptake of services like cardiac rehabilitation that can help people affected by heart and circulatory disease to live happier and longer lives.

As the UK’s largest independent funder of research into heart and circulatory diseases, we are already working hard  with the NHS to deliver its ambition of preventing more than 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases over the next decade as laid out in its Long Term Plan.

Simon Gillespie, our Chief Executive, said:


“We’ve made great progress in halving the annual number of UK deaths from heart and circulatory diseases since the BHF was first established in 1961.

“However, there are still more than twice as many people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease combined. An ageing and growing population means these numbers could rise even further.

“It’s crucial that the next Government makes a strong commitment to tackling these devastating diseases. Our three calls to action are achievable, evidence-based ambitions that could make a real difference to the millions affected by heart and circulatory conditions, and their risk factors.

“Lives are at stake. It’s vital that the next Government seizes the moment to tackle these issues and save thousands of lives in the process.”


Learn more about our three-point plan