NHS England reveals poor health check turnout
Less than half of the 15 million people eligible for the NHS Health Check over the last five years have taken it up, according to NHS England.
The 20-minute health check-up is designed to spot early signs of type 2 diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, heart disease or dementia.
Adults in England aged 40 to 74 with no pre-existing health conditions are invited automatically for the free check, which takes place every five years.
Jamie Waterall, who leads the programme at Public Health England, said: “The NHS health check looks at the top causes of premature death and ill health but more importantly supports people to take action of reducing their risk of preventable conditions such as dementia and heart disease.”
The national health check programme has included advice about preventing dementia since June and NHS England is urging people to make a New Year’s resolution to take up the health check, which could stop them developing the condition.
Someone who has had a stroke or has type 2 diabetes or heart disease is about twice as likely to develop vascular dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Society. But for every 2% reduction in the number of people experiencing stroke or other heart problems there are around 10,000 fewer dementia cases later in life. On average, four strokes can be prevented for 100 people who are identified with atrial fibrillation and receiving anticoagulation medication which helps to thin, prevent and break up dangerous blood clots.
Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia and Older People’s Mental Health for NHS England said: “Heart disease and dementia are two of the biggest health risks facing people in our country and the national health check will help stop both.
“Attending a free NHS health check is a great opportunity to discuss existing health conditions, and to work out how to reduce the risk of developing dementia and other illness in the future. The start of a new year is exactly the right time to resolve commit to taking a simple, free and potentially life-saving step towards a healthier life.”