A new NHS England scheme, which aims to prevent heart attacks and strokes, will see 320 high street pharmacies offering heart checkups, blood pressure and cholesterol tests.

The new programme has been set up to prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks and strokes over the next decade. From October, more than 320 community pharmacies across England will begin to test an early detection service to try to identify people with undiagnosed high-risk conditions.

Pharmacists will offer blood pressure tests to people showing symptoms of that condition, cholesterol tests will be offered, and electrocardiograms will be available to detect irregular heartbeats.

In a plan launched on Monday, general practices will also join the fight against common conditions that lead to cardiovascular disease, working in specialist teams with pharmacists. Successful pilots of the measures reduced strokes by a quarter.

Patients found to have concerning results will be referred to their GPs and be given lifestyle advice by the pharmacist.

If the trials are successful, the scheme will be rolled out to all community pharmacies in 2021/22 as part of a £13 billion five-year contract with NHS England.

NHS England National Medical Director Prof Stephen Powis announced: “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.

“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 wellbeing, while investing in life-changing services, close to home, when ill health hits.”

Last reviewed 3 September 2019