Hastings and Rye MP welcomes announcement of new digital health checks to tackle cardiovascular disease

Hastings and Rye MP Sally-Ann Hart has welcomed the government’s announcement that it will deliver one million checks across England from next spring.
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The current NHS Health Check has helped to prevent heart attacks and strokes and is currently a face to face check-up for adults in England over 40 to 74. Commissioned by local authorities and largely delivered through GP surgeries, it can help spot stroke, kidney disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Around 1.3 million health checks are delivered each year, identifying 315,000 people living with obesity and 33,000 cases of hypertension, and preventing over 400 heart attacks and strokes.

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From spring 2024 the new digital check will operate alongside the existing in-person NHS Health Check – and is expected to deliver an additional one million checks over four years, while easing pressure on GP surgeries.

New digital health check to tackle deadly cardiovascular diseaseNew digital health check to tackle deadly cardiovascular disease
New digital health check to tackle deadly cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is the second biggest killer in England and affects around 6.4 million people. The new digital check will help to identify 200,000 people who could benefit from the use of statins, 30,000 cases of hypertension – persistently high blood pressure – and prevent around 400 heart attacks and strokes over the first 4 years.

Each digital check could save an estimated 20 minutes of NHS time – freeing up hundreds of thousands of appointments in primary care and helping cut NHS waiting times.

Patients will be able to access the digital health check via a mobile phone, tablet or computer. They will complete an online questionnaire, enter height, weight and blood pressure measurements, and the results of a blood test.

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The results will be available online and direct people to personalised advice to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke, as well as advice to stop smoking and weight management support where appropriate. Referrals to GPs will only be made if further tests and treatment are needed - helping to reduce demand on GP services.

Sally-Ann Hart MP said: “Circulatory diseases are the single biggest cause of the gap in life expectancy in Hastings compared to the England average for men and women. This new digital check will help identify thousands of cases of hypertension and help prevent hundreds of strokes and heart attacks."

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Thousands of heart attacks and strokes could be prevented every year through simple health checks, which would save lives and ease pressure on the NHS.

This new digital check-up will mean people can do simple tests and get tailored advice from homes while reducing pressure on GP services.

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This programme is the latest example of how we are using technology to cut waiting times, one of the government’s 5 priorities, improve diagnosis and treatment.”

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Millions of people in England are living with conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol that, if left untreated, significantly increase the risk of a potentially deadly heart attack or stroke.

This initiative will help to reach more people and encourage them to get their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked so that, where necessary, healthcare professionals can work with them to manage their condition.

This could play an important role in helping people live healthier for longer and saving lives in the coming years, while reducing pressure on the NHS.”

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Juliet Bouverie OBE, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association said: “Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability and one of the biggest killers. We welcome this new digital means of checking and managing your risk of stroke, alongside the option of in-person NHS Health Checks.

High blood pressure contributes to around half of all strokes, and 500,000 people are living with undiagnosed atrial fibrillation - both conditions that are treatable.

Blood pressure checks and pulse checks are essential parts of the NHS Health Check, to accurately detect, treat and manage stroke risk in those age 40 to 74, and stop these conditions leading to a life-changing stroke.”