My View, Dr David Crichton: Health MOT can reduce risks to heart

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One of the key aims of involving people more closely in managing their own health and well-being is not only to prevent illness but to add years to life and life to years.

The NHS realises the importance of moving from being a sickness and cure service, which treats people when they are ill, to wellness and health protection. The reason for this is the management of long term medical conditions and other issues relating to ageing are becoming an increasing concern to us and the resources available to cope with this.

To help us in Doncaster, there is an ‘early warning’ project called NHS Health Check which lets adults aged 40-74 who haven’t any identified health problems to get a free midlife ‘MOT’. It checks blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose, weight and lifestyle factors, like exercise and smoking. It lets us identify risk of a heart attack or a stroke.

Over the next few years, Doncaster people aged 40-74 will receive a letter from their GP inviting them to a free health check, but in the meantime there are events where you can get checked.

As we all age, our risk of developing something potentially serious like high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes increases. An NHS check can hopefully spot early risk factors and help prevent them.

After the check, the health worker will discuss your results and, if necessary, give advice and support to help lower your risk and improve your future health.

In the 12 months to the end of March this year, nearly 7,000 NHS Health Checks were carried out in Doncaster. Around one-third of those people were identified as at increased risk of a heart attack or stroke in the next five to 10 years.

Many of the checks were carried out at GP practices like West End Clinic in Rossington. Doncaster’s director of public health, Dr Rupert Suckling recently presented Dr Ayesha Zafar with an award for the number of health checks carried out at the practice.

Over twice as many men as women were found to be at high risk of a heart attack or stroke, yet more women than men tend to have a check. If you know a man who fits the health check criteria – please prompt them to have one.

Nearly four per cent of Doncaster people have coronary heart disease and 15 per cent have high blood pressure. We know there are others who have not yet been diagnosed. Early identification of risk factors followed up with early management will reduce your risk.

To find out more about the health check, contact your GP or visit Hall Cross Medical Services Ltd The health check team also run drop-in sessions at community events in Doncaster – check online for one near you.