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High street pharmicists to help detect killer conditions

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PHARMICISTS across Cheshire are offering rapid detection and help for killer conditions like heart disease as part of a major revamp of high street pharmacy services.
The high street heart checks are part of an ambitious target the NHS in England has set itself as part of its Long-Term Plan to prevent tens of thousands of strokes and heart attacks over the next ten years.
However, this work has been rolling out much earlier in Cheshire. In 2017, a local blood pressure screening programme was piloted which aimed to record a minimum of 3,000 blood pressure screening measurements across 120 Healthy Living Pharmacies across the region.
There are an estimated 275,000 people in the area with high blood pressure who are unknown to their general practices. This could put them at risk of developing serious heart disease.
Plans are underway for both GPs and community pharmacists to lead the fight against common conditions that cause cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke, building on successful pilots which have reduced strokes by a quarter.
General practices will identify those at risk and optimise treatment in people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and irregular heart rhythms – called Atrial Fibrillation (AF) – all high risk conditions that that most commonly cause heart disease and stroke, as well as many cases of dementia.
From 1 October, as part of their new £13 billion five-year contract, community pharmacists will start to develop and test an early detection service to identify people who may have undiagnosed high-risk conditions like high blood pressure for referral for further testing and treatment. If successful this could be rolled out to all community pharmacies in 2021-22.
Accelerating prevention of life-threatening illness such as heart attack and stroke is central to the NHS Long Term Plan and, in addition to a substantial commitment to tackle obesity, alcohol dependence and smoking, the blueprint for the health service outlines an ambition to tackle CVD, affecting six million people and accounting for a quarter of deaths in England and costing the NHS £7 billion a year.
Community pharmacists will offer an ever-increasing range of clinical health checks and treatment, alongside their core offer of medicines advice and prescriptions and consultations for minor illnesses such as earache, sore throats, coughs and colds.
This will include developing and testing an early detection service to help identify people who may have undiagnosed cardiovascular disease for onward referral for further testing and treatment if required.
Pharmacists will case-find and offer blood pressure tests to people showing symptoms, provide clinical and lifestyle advice or referral, and record the data, joining up services and treatment with GPs and other local services, to speed up access to care.

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