4 Prevention is better than cure

4.1 Introduction

Prevention strategies for cardiovascular diseases are often referred to as primary or secondary. This distinction is made because recommendations for the patient are slightly different, depending on whether cardiovascular diseases have already been established. Primary prevention involves preventing the onset of disease in individuals without symptoms. Secondary prevention refers to the prevention (or delay) of death or recurrence of disease in those with symptoms.

For all coronary heart disease patients who die within a month of the onset of symptoms, about three more have died before even reaching hospital. This emphasises the need to recognise the warning signs and work on prevention of the causes of cardiovascular diseases. The health problems caused by cardiovascular diseases worldwide have led to a great deal of research into both causes and treatment. (The scale and depth of the research can be demonstrated by searching various resources on the internet, such as PubMed (National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2007).) There is now better evidence to guide the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of coronary heart disease than there is for most other major diseases, and in the UK this has led to the development of guidelines for the health service.