Dementia risk to become part of over NHS Health Check for over 40s

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By Sue Learner

GPs and nurses will now be able to advise patients over 40 on how they can reduce their dementia risk, as part of the NHS England Health Check.

The health check is recommended every five years for people over the age of 40 and the tests include height, weight, blood and blood pressure.

Currently over half of adults say dementia is one of their top three health fears yet just under a third are unaware of the risk factors and only two per cent know about all the things they can do to reduce the risk, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

The charity says as many as one third of dementia cases may be prevented by improved lifestyle choices.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Not before time, dementia is being included in NHS Health Checks. We are proud to be part of this project. With three out of four people in midlife saying that they would make lifestyle changes now to reduce their risk of developing dementia in future, this health check will encourage them to do so.

“In the absence of a cure, risk reduction is a vital tool to fight dementia. Dementia takes hold of the brain decades before symptoms appear, so empowering people to get fit and eat healthier from age 40 is crucial if we’re to reduce the number of people developing the condition.”

Over the last five years, over 14 million people (91 per cent of the five-year eligible population) have been offered an NHS Health Check. Out of those, nearly seven million (48.7 per cent of those offered) have had a health check.

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.”

Wales does not offer health checks but runs a programme called ‘add to your life’ which targets groups at risk of disease and does focus on early diagnosis of dementia through GP surgeries. Scotland similarly focusses on early diagnosis of dementia.

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