Skip to main content

Measurement of cardiovascular risk factors before NHS Health Checks

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death in the UK. Reducing the burden of CVD requires both primary and secondary prevention strategies. While there have been some primary prevention strategies in the UK over the past decade, there has been far greater focus on secondary prevention strategies targeting high risk individuals. The National Health Service (NHS) Health Check, a national primary prevention programme for vascular disease, aims to improve the prevention and early diagnosis of CVD.

In an article published recently in the medical journal JRSM Short Reports, Macide Artac and Colleagues from the Department of Primary Care & Public Health at Imperial College London  assessed measurement and level of CVD risk factors (blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), blood glucose and smoking status) before implementation of NHS Health Checks in general practices in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.

They found a high rate of recording of smoking status (86%) and blood pressure (83%); whilst BMI, cholesterol and glucose recording was lower. There was a large variation in BMI, cholesterol, glucose recording between general practices (e.g. 30–92% for BMI). Women had significantly better risk factor recording than men and all risk factors were better recorded in the least deprived patient group . Age-adjusted levels of cholesterol and BMI were not significantly different between men and women. Men were more likely than women to have raised blood glucose, blood pressure and BMI.

Macide Artac and colleagues concluded that before the start of the NHS Health Check programme, CVD risk factor recording varied considerably by practice and patient characteristics. They also identified significantly elevated levels of CVD risk factors in the population eligible for a Health Check, which will require considerable work to manage well.

The figure shows the general practice level variation in recording of cardiovascular disease risk factors within last 5 years.


Popular posts from this blog

Can GPs issue private prescriptions to NHS patients?

The NHS prescription charge in England is currently £8.60 per item. At this level, many commonly prescribed drugs will cost less than the prescription charge and so some NHS patients may occasionally ask if they can have a private prescription rather than an NHS prescription.

In the past, some GPs have been advised that they could issue both an NHS FP10 and a private prescription, and let the patient decide which to use. But the British Medical Association's General Practice Committee has obtained legal advice that said under the current primary care contract, GPs in England may not issue a private prescription alongside or as an alternative to an NHS FP10 prescription. In any consultation where a GP needs to issue an FP10, the concurrent issue of a private prescription would be a breach of NHS regulations.

The issuing of a private prescription in such circumstances could also be seen as an attempt to deprive the NHS of the funds it would receive from the prescription charge. Fur…

What will Brexit mean for the NHS?

On the 29 March 2017, the Prime Minister of the UK Theresa May, formally notified the European Union (EU) Council President, Donald Tusk, of the UK’s intention to leave the EU. Theresa May’s letter to Donald Tusk triggers a two-year process during which the UK will have to negotiate both the terms of its exit from EU and the arrangements that will replace those we have had for over 40 years with the other member states of the EU. The consequences of the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU (commonly referred to as ‘Brexit’) will be wide-ranging and will affect all areas of UK’s society, including the National Health Service (NHS).

For the NHS, Brexit comes at a time when it faces many other major challenges. These include severe financial pressures, rising workload, increased waiting times for both primary care and specialist services, and shortages of health professionals in many key areas (such as in general practice and in emergency departments). The NHS also faces challenges fr…

Dr Demis Hassabis, Co-Founder and CEO of DeepMind, Speaks about AI in Healthcare

On 28 September 2017, I attended the Annual Institute of Global Health Innovation Lecture: Artificial General Intelligence and Healthcare, delivered by Dr Demis Hassabis, co-founder and CEO of Google DeepMind. Artificial intelligence is the science of making machines smart argued Dr Hassabis, so how can we make it improve the healthcare sector? Dr Hassabis then went on to describe the work that DeepMind was carrying out in healthcare in areas such as organising information, deep learning to support the reporting of medical images (such as scans and pathology slides), and biomedical science. Dr Hassabis also discussed the challenges of applying techniques such as reinforcement learning in healthcare. He concluded that artificial intelligence has great scope for improving healthcare; for example, by prioritising the tasks that clinicians had to carry out and by providing decision support aids for both patients and doctors. Dr Hassabis also discussed some of the ethical issues in using …