High street pharmacies are to start offering heart health check-ups in a move that could save thousands of lives every year.
It is estimated that a simple blood pressure check could reduce the risk of heart and circulatory diseases, preventing 3,700 strokes and 2,500 heart attacks and save around 2,000 lives over the next five years.1
From October all NHS pharmacies in England will be offering the service to adults aged 40 and over, with no appointment necessary. This involves around 10-15 minutes in the pharmacy consultation room with a trained member of the pharmacy team. Following this, you may be invited to take home a blood pressure monitor that measures your blood pressure as you go about your daily life. Depending on your blood pressure reading you may be referred to your GP.2
The deal is part of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework - a deal between NHS England, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, and the Department of Health and Social Care.
Dr Shahed Ahmad, national clinical director for cardiovascular disease prevention, said community pharmacists are “ideally placed to deliver this life-saving work”.3
He added: “Cardiovascular disease claims 136,000 lives a year and is a major cause of health inequalities, with about half of heart attacks and strokes being associated with high blood pressure. The detection and control of high blood pressure is one of the best things we can do to save lives and reduce health inequalities.”3
Prof Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: “More high street heart checks for blood pressure will mean more rapid detection of killer conditions and quicker treatment for patients who need it. Pharmacies are in the heart of communities and so they are ideally placed to provide these convenient checks so if you are worried about your health, please do get tested – it could save your life.”3
Dr Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, said: “Pharmacy teams have already played an important part in the NHS COVID vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in the health service’s history, and - with this new service being rolled out across the country - they will have a vital new role in delivering life-saving blood pressure checks in the heart of our communities.”3
As part of the new contract, chemists will also start to offer advice and care to smokers who have recently been discharged from hospital. Patients will be able to receive support sessions over 12 weeks with a trained member of the pharmacy team.3
Overall, it is a brilliant initiative that will help to save lives, prevent heart and circulatory diseases, and empower people to make healthier lifestyle choices.
1. BBC News. 2021. High Street chemists to offer free blood pressure checks: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-58315015 (Accessed 6 September 2021)
2. England, N., 2021. NHS England, Pharmacy Integration Programme: https://www.england.nhs.uk/primary-care/pharmacy/pharmacy-integration-fund/> (Accessed 6 September 2021)
3. Sky News. 2021. Blood pressure checks rolled out in pharmacies ‘could save 2,000 lives’, NHS England says: https://news.sky.com/story/blood-pressure-checks-rolled-out-in-pharmacies-could-save-2-000-lives-nhs-england-says-12389163 (Accessed 6 September 2021)