CARDIOVASCULAR disease is among the top causes of illness for adults in Oxfordshire, and health officials want to see that change.

At a meeting of the Oxfordshire Health Improvement Partnership Board on Thursday, a report into how cardiovascular disease (CVD) could be reduced in the county's adult population was presented.

Board members heard CVD is one of the top four causes of death among Oxfordshire adults under the age of 75.

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CVD is a group term for a range of conditions which affect people's hearts, including heart disease, angina, stroke, and vascular dementia.

Dr Kiren Collison, a GP and member of the board, said the heart conditions had been chosen as a priority because there were a lot of simple steps which could be taken to prevent them.

The health improvement board is made up of representatives from Oxfordshire County Council, the district councils, Thames Valley Police, and local health organisations.

Dr Collison added there were ways all these different public bodies could work towards a single aim of reducing heart disease, as in the past there had been duplication of efforts.

To streamline their efforts, a three-pronged approach was set out: preventing CVD, reducing the need for treatment or the risk of the illness, and delaying symptoms so people with the disease could live a full life.

A report to the board said the reasons many people ended up with CVD was because of high blood pressure caused by inactive lifestyles, or bad diets.

Other causes included smoking and drinking too much.

For councillors, Dr Collison said, the new strategy meant making sure their plans to bring in more cycle paths and pedestrian routes were successful.

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Chair of the board, county councillor Andrew McHugh said there was also individual responsibility to prevent CVD by taking more exercise and eating healthier foods.

Mr McHugh said: "To misquote JFK, it's a case of 'ask not what the NHS does for you, but what you can do for the NHS'."

The proposals for preventing CVD mentioned more should be done to reduce smoking among adults in Oxfordshire.

The board also discussed a new tobacco control strategy at the meeting, which will aim to reduce the number of smokers in the county.