West Essex PCT: NHS health checks to help reduce heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and kidney disease

NHS Health Checks, which could prevent 1600 heart attacks and strokes each year and help save 650 lives, are now being carried out in west Essex.

NHS Health Checks, which could prevent 1600 heart attacks and strokes each year and help save 650 lives, are now being carried out in west Essex.

The health checks are part of a campaign to ensure people aged 40-74 have the necessary information about their health to make important lifestyle changes and reduce their risks of developing diseases like diabetes and coronary heart disease.

The new quick and simple tests will be offered to all west Essex residents aged between 40-74 at their local GP practice.

The tests will identify risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. After the test patients will be offered free personalised advice on how to lower risks and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

All west Essex registered patients aged 40-74 are eligible for the ‘NHS Health Check’, provided they have not already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, heart disease or have had a heart attack or stroke.

The health checks consist of:

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* straightforward questions on health and diet, exercise habits and family medical history

* height and weight measurements

* a simple blood test for cholesterol and in some cases for glucose levels

* a follow up, personal assessment setting out the individual’s level of risk and what they can do to reduce this

* recommendations of what could be done to reduce risk including weight management programmes, stop smoking, physical activity programmes.

Primary Care Trusts are designing their own local implementation plans to make sure they can deliver the checks and follow-up services that will best suit the needs of the local population.

Senior health improvement specialist with NHS West Essex, Helen Dear, said: “Cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer in west Essex and we want to support local people to reduce their risk of developing a disease.

“The first step is to get a full NHS Health Check, so that is why we’ve brought this free screening to west Essex - just await your invitation from your local GP practice.”

She added: “Many people don’t even know they are at risk of heart attack or stroke, because some heart problems, such as high blood pressure, are symptomless.

“The good news is that once detected, these conditions can be successfully controlled, so I hope all eligible residents will take advantage of these potentially life-saving tests.”

The programme is part of a national initiative which aims to provide all adults in England aged 40-74 with a vascular risk assessment every five years, and is being rolled out in west Essex to be fully implemented by 2012-13.

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