Record number of heart checkups

MORE people than ever before are receiving heart check ups, according to figures published last week.

Statistics released by ISD Scotland today show that almost 48,000 people underwent Keep Well check ups in 2011/12- including 402 in the Borders.

This compares to around 41,000 the year before and the figure far exceeds the target of 26,682.

A Keep Well health check is free, typically takes 30-40 minutes, and is offered to 40 to 64 year olds at participating GP practices in the most deprived communities across Scotland.

The health checks focus primarily on cardio-vascular disease (CVD) and its main risk factors, especially blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking and diabetes, but have also taken a whole person approach to patients, recognising their wider needs.

Those found to be at risk are referred onto further services/brief interventions including smoking cessation, alcohol interventions and diet/weight management or are prescribed appropriate medications.

Although there has been a downturn in the number of heart-related illnesses in the region, Dr Alan Mordue, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, urged people in the target age group to take advantage of Keep Well check ups.

He commented: “The mortality rate for heart disease and strokes in the Borders has been steadily decreasing over the last few decades. However, there is still room for further improvement and preventing more heart attacks and strokes and the impact they have on people’s lives is crucial.

“Our local Keep Well health checks identify those at higher risk and give advice and support to reduce their risk through changes to lifestyle risk factors, such as smoking, diet and physical activity, and refer to GPs where treatments may be required.

“The aim is to help people make positive choices about their lifestyle to reduce risk factors. The value of the Keep Well programme is that it targets those who are less likely to seek out help and advice and supports the individual to maintain their health and wellbeing.”