Treatment and management

What is treatment and management of heart, stroke and vascular disease?

The treatment and management of heart, stroke and vascular disease (HSVD) can be regarded as having 3 broad phases – prevention, acute care and secondary prevention.


Prevention activities help people at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) before symptoms appear or before a cardiovascular event occurs. Healthy living–including not smoking, a balanced diet, regular physical activity – and the use of medicines can help manage levels of biomedical risk factors such as high blood pressure and abnormal blood lipids (WHO 2007).

Prevention services are commonly delivered by general practitioners (GPs), alongside nurses, pharmacists, Indigenous health workers and allied health professionals.

Acute care

Acute care is the treatment given during and immediately after an acute CVD event such as a heart attack or stroke. It includes emergency care provided before a patient reaches hospital, as well as care given in the emergency department and in hospital.

Secondary prevention

Secondary prevention here refers to health care which aims to prevent a recurrence of CVD events or complications in patients with diagnosed CVD. Secondary prevention involves medical treatment, modification of risk factors, psychosocial care, education and support for self-management.

Cardiac and stroke rehabilitation services are 2 examples of evidence-based secondary prevention strategies (Anderson & Taylor 2014, Stroke Foundation 2013).


Anderson IJ & Taylor RS (2014) Cardiac rehabilitation for people with heart disease: an overview of Cochrane systematic reviews. Int J Cardiol 177: 348–61.

Stroke Foundation (2013) Rehabilitation stroke services framework. Melbourne: Stroke Foundation.

World Health Organization (WHO) (2007) Prevention of cardiovascular disease : guidelines for assessment and management of total cardiovascular risk. Geneva: WHO.