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Spotting heart problems early could prevent dementia in tens of thousands

Making a New Year’s resolution to take up a free NHS health check could stop people developing dementia as well as catching physical conditions, a top doctor has said.

The national health check – a 20-minute, pain-free assessment carried out by a GP or nurse and involving tests on blood pressure, weight and height – is free to everyone aged 40 years old and above.

Symptoms like high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat increase the risk of having a stroke or suffering a heart attack and can be spotted as part of the routine health check.

The national health check programme also picks up conditions such as kidney disease and type 2 diabetes and, since June, has included advice about preventing dementia.

However, recent figures show that of the 15 million people eligible for a free NHS health check over the last five years, fewer than 50% took one.

For every 2% reduction in the number of people experiencing stroke or other heart problems there are around 10,000 fewer dementia cases later in life.

As part of the long term plan for the health service, NHS England has committed to improving care for heart conditions and stroke.

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