Patients aged 40-74 at GP practices in Merthyr Tydfil and Pontypridd are being invited to a free Health Check.

Up to 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 Practice 1, Keir Hardie Health Park, and Taff Vale surgery in Pontypridd, are the latest to be offered a health check which can identify their risk and explore what can be done to help them avoid preventable death from heart disease.

The programme is available to all patients aged 40-74 who are not already known to have a history of heart disease, stroke, diabetes or high blood pressure.

The intention is to reach all GP practices in the Health Board area by 2019 and around 2,330 people attended an assessment last year.

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.”

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.

“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.”

Primary Care 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 won the first Roger Pugh Memorial Award last year in Cwm Taf University Health Board’s staff recognition event for making ‘the most significant contribution to enhancing the quality of point of care testing’.

Photo caption: Patient Paul Thomas has his blood pressure checked.

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