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Shoppers to be offered NHS heart checks

Scheme aims to prevent 150,000 heart attacks and strokes within a decade

Shoppers are to be offered on-the-spot NHS heart checks under a new plan drawn up by the government.

High street pharmacies will be overhauled in an attempt to prevent up to 150,000 heart attacks and strokes within a decade.

Pilot schemes have seen some types of strokes fall by a quarter.

From October, chemists will begin rolling out the “rapid detection service”, which includes mobile electrocardiograms to spot irregular heartbeats, as well as checks on blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

If successful, the scheme will be rolled out to every pharmacist in the country within three years.

Pharmacists will also be expected to provide advice on exercise and diet, with results passed directly to GP practices, the Telegraph reports. 

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s medical director, claimed the rapid detection of killer conditions through high street heart checks will be a game-changer.

The checks are part of a new £13bn five year contract for community pharmacists which aims to expand their roles and offer earlier detection of diseases. 

More than 100 pharmacies in Cheshire and Merseyside have begun offering blood pressures screening services, under a local initiative backed by the British Heart Foundation. Pilot schemes in Lambeth and Southwark in south London identified more than 1,400 patients suffering from atrial fibrillation, who should have been taking blood thinning drugs but were not. In total, 1,300 of the patients have now been put on the medication, leading to a 25% reduction in the rate of strokes linked to their heart condition.