NHS to roll out free high street heart checks at selected pharmacies

Pharmacies are set to offer free heart checks as part of an initiative by the NHS in England aimed at early detection of conditions including heart disease and stroke.

From next month, selected chemists will begin rolling out the “rapid detection service”, which will include cholesterol and blood pressure checks, along with testing to search for irregular heartbeats.

If successful, the programme will be broadened to every pharmacy in England by 2022.

England’s most senior doctor said the plan is “a game changer”, adding that it will aim to help pharmacies prevent up to 150,000 heart attacks and strokes within a decade.

“Heart disease and strokes dramatically cut short lives, and leave thousands of people disabled every year, so rapid detection of killer conditions through high street heart checks will be a game-changer,” said NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis.

“Reducing lifestyle risks and treating high-risk conditions such as smoking, obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity are key to preventing serious ill-health, and the NHS Long Term Plan will help people take positive action for their own well-being, while investing in life-changing services, close to home, when ill-health hits.”

The plan, which will also aid GPs in work on early detection of heart disease, is part of a £4.5 billion package of extra investment in primary and community care.

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