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Patients screened for heart disease

The British Heart Foundation has welcomed new plans which could see millions of Britons assessed to identify those at risk of heart disease.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) suggests information regularly collected by GPs should be used to earmark those most at risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), and prioritise them for further tests.

The draft guidelines, mooted in on Monday, say adults who have a 20% or greater risk of developing heart disease over the next decade should also be offered the cholesterol-cutting drugs statins.

They also set out how lifestyle changes, such as alterations to diet, smoking cessation and increased exercise, can help prevent someone from developing CVD.

Dr Gillian Leng, implementation systems director and executive lead for the guidelines, said: "The draft guideline is not advocating a programme of national, population-based screening.

"What it does recommend is that a systematic strategy should be used at local primary care level to identify individuals likely to be at high risk of developing CVD."  

Professor Peter Weissberg, from the British Heart Foundation, said: "These draft guidelines are a pragmatic attempt at dealing with the major killer of our age.

"Rather than embarking on any complex screening programme, we agree it makes sense to ask GPs to systematically check their patient records to identify those likely to be at most risk - and then invite those people in for an assessment."

The guidelines are open for consultation until 22 August.

British Heart Foundation


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