THE health board yesterday pledged to invest more than £700,000 into cardiac care after it was revealed Gwent has a higher risk of the disease.

A report by the Aneurin Bevan Health Board said the population of Gwent has a higher risk of hypertension and chronic heart disease compared to other areas in the UK.

It also said waiting times for cardiac treatment across the Aneurin Bevan Health Board area had exceeded the 36-week maximum set by the Welsh Government, with a few extreme cases of people dying before they could access treatment.

David Jenkins, the chairman of the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, said the situation needed to change.

“Improving cardiology has been seen as a priority for Wales as a whole,” he said.

“It seems to be a particularly Welsh disease with very high incident rates.

“It is a very good reason why we are being asked for an investment.”

The board have now agreed to a £716,000 investment which will see an additional consultant, greater capacity for care and an additional echo-cardiographer introduced into the area.

Aneurin Health Board covers Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport, and Torfaen.

The number of people with chronic heart disease across Gwent is above the Welsh average.

Mr Jenkins said: “We want to see this investment take place.

“The real challenge is where this money will come from.

“We can’t wish it out of thin air.”

The Strategic and Planning Committee will now look at all the health services and work out where the money will come from.

Board member and former councillor Philip Robson said it was crucial the money was spent as efficiently as possible.

“Agreeing to spend is the easy part,” he said.

“We have to get much more mature about where we are going to get the money from.

“I think what we need to get into our heads is to spend the money where it is most effective.”

Councillor Brian Mawby, cabinet member for health, social care and wellbeing at Torfaen council, said it was a problem which could not be ignored.

“It would be sticking our heads in the sand if we said we are not going to do this because we know there’s a disproportionate effect on people here,” he said.

But he also said future measures were needed to stem the issue.

“We must also consider the extent to which we look at preventative actions,” he added.