Dementia risk now included as part of NHS Health Check

Healthcare professionals in GP surgeries and the community will soon give advice on dementia risk to patients as part of the NHS Health Check.

Adding the dementia element to the NHS Health Check programme will enable healthcare professionals to talk to their patients about how they can reduce their dementia risk, such as by maintaining their social life, keeping mentally and physically active and stopping smoking.

It is estimated that over 850,000 people are living with dementia in the UK with little public understanding of how it’s possible to reduce the risk. While much of the NHS Health Check focuses on reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, the advice for preventing CVD is much the same as for dementia: ‘what’s good for the heart is good for the brain’.

Data published today shows the last 5-year performance of the NHS Health Check:

  • over 14 million people (91% of the 5-year eligible population) have been offered an NHS Health Check
  • almost 7 million (48.7% of those offered) have had a health check

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England said: “The NHS Health Check is one of the largest public health prevention programmes in the world with almost 7 million in the last 5 years having benefited from a check, and it’s reaching the people where it’s most needed with the greatest numbers in the most disadvantaged areas. This success is down to local councils delivering and they should be proud of this achievement.”

“It’s free and fast, and effective – just 15 minutes that could add years to your life.”

Minister for Public Health Steve Brine said: “Early detection and prevention are vital to the health of our nation and our programmes in this area are among the most ambitious in the world. Our aim is to keep everyone as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, which is why we are introducing advice on dementia prevention as part of our free health checks.”

As much as 85% of CVD is preventable. The NHS Health Check helps to identify and support people who would benefit from clinical and lifestyle treatment and services for the top 7 risk factors driving the burden of non-communicable disease, such as all cancers, diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases. Being a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet, not smoking, drinking in moderation, keeping active and ensuring you know your numbers (blood pressure and cholesterol) can all help reduce the risks of CVD, dementia and many other long term conditions.