Lewisham heart checks

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Handy heart checks come to Lewisham
02/07/2009

Lewisham residents aged 40–74 are being encouraged to have a quick and easy heart health checks at convenient locations in the borough.

NHS Lewisham is working with UK charity the Blood Pressure Association to take free heart screening out onto the high street, with the aim of helping those at increased risk to take action to avoid heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular problems.

Screening vans offering the NHS Health Checks will be parked at Lewisham Marketplace as follows:
•        9am–6pm on Saturday 4 July
•        9am–5pm on Wednesday 8 July
•        9am–5pm on Friday 10 July.

The free checks will also be on offer to those attending the Lewisham Islamic Centre, SE13 6NZ, from 1pm–9pm on Tuesday 7 July.

There’s no need for an appointment and in just 20 minutes skilled nurses will take height, waist and weight measurements and calculate individuals’ Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a tool used to tell how healthy a person's weight is. They will also take a blood pressure measurement, check cholesterol levels, carry out a simple test for diabetes and discuss how lifestyle choices can impact on health and life expectancy.

People with high blood pressure or other conditions will be referred to their GP and everyone is signposted to local organisations or activities according to their needs – for example, to a stop smoking group, a walking group or community exercise classes.

Alfred Banya, Head of Health Improvement Team at NHS Lewisham, said:
“Vascular diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes account for 35% of all deaths in Lewisham. But now it couldn’t be easier for local people to have a free and potentially life-saving health check. It’s a first important step towards good heart health.”

Mike Rich, Executive Director of UK charity the Blood Pressure Association, said: “Many people don’t even know they’re at risk of heart attack or stroke because many heart problems, including high blood pressure, do not show any obvious symptoms. The good news is that once detected, many of these conditions can be easily controlled – so it’s really important to get tested.”

NHS Lewisham has been offering free health checks to residents in the north of the borough through its Health Communities Collaborative since 2007. This latest initiative links in with a national screening programme to provide every adult in England aged 40–74 with a vascular risk assessment every five years.

In the first year of the programme, the NHS Lewisham Health Improvement Team hope to carry out 8,000 health checks around Lewisham, increasing to 12,000 in 2010. This work builds on the 900 health checks carried out in 2008 by the Team’s Healthy Communities Collaborative in the Evelyn and New Cross areas of the borough.

The national vascular screening programme aims to prevent 9,500 heart attacks and strokes every year and save 2,000 lives.

Ends

For more information, contact Louise Bradley, NHS Lewisham Communications and Involvement Officer, on 0207 206 3333 or email communication@lewishampct.nhs.uk or Sue Massey, at the BPA Press Office on 020 8772 4984.

Notes to editors:
1.      For more information on the national vascular screening programme visit: http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/Detail.aspx?NewsAreaId=2&ReleaseID=364087&SubjectId=2
2.      A healthy diet, taking regular exercise, not smoking and only drinking in moderation are the key measures to take to help present vascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke.
3.      The Blood Pressure Association is the UK’s blood pressure charity which aims to lower the nation’s blood pressure. The award-winning charity provides information and support for people with high blood pressure and raises awareness about its prevention. For more details visit www.bpassoc.org.uk or call 020 8722 4994.
4.      NHS Lewisham are charged with leading the local NHS. We do this by assessing local health needs and buying (commissioning) health services from a range of providers. These providers include The Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust, hospitals in Central London, Mental Health Trusts, GPs, Community Health Services, Dentists, Opticians and Pharmacists, plus organisations in the community and voluntary sector.


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