AAC publishes updated clinical pathway for lipid management

Supporting clinicians to identify high-risk cardiovascular conditions

  • Shahed Ahmad, National Clinical Director for CVD Prevention
  • Helen Williams, National Speciality Advisor for CVD Prevention
  • Nick Linker, National Clinical Director for Heart Disease 

Cardiovascular disease claims around 136,000 lives across England each year. It is a major cause of health inequalities, differentially impacting deprived and ethnic minority populations. And yet, we know that with the right interventions, CVD is also the single biggest condition where lives can be saved over the next 10 years.

That’s why the NHS has made CVD prevention - through early detection and treatment interventions - a national priority, committing to preventing up to 150,000 people from having heart attacks or strokes over the next decade.

The NHS Long Term Plan prioritises ‘ABC’ - Atrial Fibrillation, Blood Pressure and Cholesterol. If we take the example of cholesterol, it is estimated that more than 20 million people in England have elevated cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol levels can be lowered through lifestyle changes, for example by adjusting your diet, and some people will also need medicines, such as statins.  Around 6.5 million people are currently taking statins to protect them from having a heart attack or stroke. We need to ensure that everyone at risk is offered effective treatment to lower their cholesterol and are working to ensure that clinicians are equipped with tools to support them in identifying and managing those patients who can benefit.

This is why the NHS, through the Accelerated Access Collaborative, has published an updated version of the NICE-endorsed lipid management pathway to include all treatment options from current treatments as well as newer options. These new cholesterol-reducing drugs are important additional tools in armoury for managing cardiovascular disease. The revised pathway brings multiple NICE guidance and technology appraisals into a single document to aid decision making for clinicians, helping to improve outcomes and reduce variation in treatment. 

In tandem with this, an education programme has been developed  in partnership with the AHSN Network and HEART UK – Tackling Cholesterol Together  to support cholesterol management, boost uptake of high-intensity statins and other treatment options, and systematically change lipid management in line with the updated NICE endorsed pathways.

These interventions will be supported by primary care quality improvement tools which will provide data, education, and change management to support the identification of patients who are at risk of a cardiovascular event in communities.

You can find the updated Lipid Management Pathway here and read more about the NHS’s work on CVD prevention on the NHS England website.