NEARLY 250,000 heart attacks could have been prevented in the last five years in the West Midlands, according to the NHS.
The NHS Health Check figures also show that around 50,000 strokes could have been averted if caught early enough.
Speaking at a Public Health England (PHE) Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) prevention conference today, chief executive Duncan Selbie will call on local authorities to ensure that all residents are eligible for a free NHS Health Check.
He said this could help to tackle a quarter of deaths in the country caused by CVD.
Over the last five years, up to 233,570 heart attacks and 46,720 strokes should have been avoided by giving the right follow-up care to people found to be at risk.
The NHS Health Check is free for all adults in England aged 40-74, who have not yet developed CVD.
It’s one of the largest health prevention programmes in the world, helping to detect and prevent early signs of cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, type two diabetes and dementia.
CVD is a leading cause of disability and death in the UK.
It affects around seven million people and is responsible for 26 per cent of all deaths in England – estimated to cost the NHS around £9 billion a year.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said: “Since 2013, over 6.1 million people have taken an NHS Health Check.
“The programme is a cornerstone in England for the prevention of conditions such as CVD, which causes 1 in 4 premature deaths and places a huge strain on individuals, families and our healthcare system.
“Every local authority in the country is required by law to ensure that all eligible people in their area are offered a check every five years. We must work together to increase numbers taking up the offer, in particular targeting our efforts to those at greatest risk.”
The conference, with over 500 health professionals expected to attend, including GPs and NHS Health Check providers, will focus on a number of ways that CVD risk can be reduced.
This includes ensuring equity and reducing inequality through CVD prevention programmes.
And highlighting the importance of health care professionals in delivering behaviour change messaging for CVD risk reduction
learning from a range of international CVD prevention projects.