Three years ago, a unique group of more than 40 voluntary organisations, including the British Heart Foundation, published a very important piece of work. The Cardio and Vascular Coalition's (CVC's) Destination 2020 report urged the Department of Health to commit to a proactive and coordinated plan to tackle cardiovascular diseases.
It was, in effect, the voluntary sector's vision for change; a way forward to prevent heart attacks and strokes, and provide better care for patients. And, crucially, it recognised the links between heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.
Cardiovascular diseases are conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels throughout the body. They include heart attacks, arrhythmias, stroke, transient ischaemic attack, peripheral vascular disease and congenital heart disease. But it's also important to include conditions which impact on, or result from, cardiovascular disease, like diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
It's important to remember the conditions I've mentioned above don't work in isolation - having one organ affected by cardiovascular disease greatly increases the risk of it affecting another. That's why recognising their commonality is an important step towards reducing the significant burden they place on society.
On 1 December, 2011, the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley recognised that we needed a new Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes Strategy. Rising levels of obesity and diabetes and an aging population meant we needed a new vision, a new plan to not only sustain but improve progress combating the UK's biggest killer.
So the CVC has come together again, this time to help parliamentarians and peers write a new report that will help shape the Department of Health's new Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes Strategy.
Just like in 2009, cardiovascular diseases are the major public health challenge of the next decade. This report will help those writing the Outcomes Strategy realise the voluntary sector's new vision for tackling cardiovascular diseases.