A MAJOR project aimed at cutting the number of people in the region affected by heart disease is starting to have an impact.

Health chiefs say they are “delighted” at the results so far from the initiative, which was commissioned by West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership.

The three-year Healthy Hearts scheme, being delivered by the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network, is supporting GP practices and healthcare professionals to reduce incidents of cardiovascular disease across the area.

By focusing on specific risk factors – including blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes – the target is to cut the disease rate by ten per cent by 2021.

The first phase centres on identifying people who may have high blood pressure – or hypertension – but where it is not yet diagnosed, and those who need to better control hypertension to a safe target below 140/90.

In West Yorkshire and Harrogate alone, more than 600,000 people are affected by high blood pressure.

Also, over 60,000 people have an irregular heartbeat and more than 49,000 have experienced a stroke or mini-stroke.

Initial results show that since January last year, over 7,500 people have been added to the hypertension register – meaning they will be more closely monitored.

And nearly 8,000 people now have their hypertension better controlled.

Dr Youssef Beaini, a GP and clinical lead for the initiative, said: “We are working with doctors and NHS organisations across the region to help reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes.

“There are thousands of patients who’ve already been diagnosed with hypertension, who will benefit from simple improvements to their existing medication.

“We are really encouraged by the results we’re seeing and that is all down to the hard work of GPs and nurses on the frontline.”

Rob Webster, for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, said: “I’m delighted by the results so far. The engagement from all involved has been fantastic. It is a true reflection of how much can be achieved when partners work together to put people, not organisations, at the heart of what we do.”

Hypertension is among the biggest risk factors for disease – after tobacco, smoking and poor diet. It rarely shows symptoms. For more details, visit nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension.