Health Checks team is tackling CVD

At least 40 early deaths could be prevented if the loss of life from cardiovascular disease in the Cwm Taf University Health Board area were reduced to the Welsh average.

Patients registered with GPs in Cwm Taf are being offered a health check which can identify ways of them avoiding preventable death from heart disease.

The three year programme follows a successful pilot scheme which screened 600 people aged 40-75 not already known to have the condition for their risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes in the most deprived communities.

Cwm Taf Public Health Consultant Sara Thomas said: “We know that on average people in the most deprived parts of Cwm Taf, such as the Valleys, have poorer health and are dying up to seven years earlier than those in more affluent areas.

“The aim of this programme is for people to live longer but also to live a healthier, better quality of life. We would encourage those invited to take up this offer of a free health check.”

Patients can be shocked by 'heart age'

The Cardiovascular Risk Reduction programme deploys healthcare support workers in GP practices who are trained to do the health check using software which calculates their risk and their ‘heart age’.

Patients are sometimes shocked by their findings, like when their ‘heart age’ is found to be five to 10 years older than their actual age.

Project Manager Vicky Norman said: “We can offer advice on diet and exercise with support to quit smoking or arrange a referral to their doctor for treatment if necessary. All these changes can improve the quality of someone’s life. Or, in some cases, save it.”

People who attended Cwm Taf UHB public forums in June were able to learn more about the programme, with specially trained and equipped staff to demonstrate how the health checks work.

Lead nurse Carolyn Donoghue said: “While the majority of patients respond to make appointments for the checks, we are still finding that some people aren’t coming in and we are making changes to try to address this, including follow up phone calls.

“It is important that patients identified for tests do not ignore the invitations.”

The team behind the project recently won the first Roger Pugh Memorial Award in Cwm Taf University Health Board’s annual staff recognition event for making ‘the most significant contribution to enhancing the quality of point of care testing’.

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