Failing to take health checks to heart

DESPITE Levenmouth having a heart disease rate significantly higher than the national average, those most at risk are ignoring the chance to have check-ups that could save their lives.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is one of the major causes of chronic illness and premature death in Scotland and while the average incidence among people registered with GPs for the country and Fife is 4.4 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively, in Levenmouth the figure is five per cent.

Keep Well is a national programme offering health assessments to 40 to 60-year-olds living in the most deprived areas, with the focus on early detection and risk reduction.

Locally, this is delivered by NHS Fife and involves a small team of nurses going out into the community and setting up in easily accessible venues.

Contact is made with those eligible and they are invited to come along to a session being held near where they live or work.

However, between April 2011 and March 2012, 5530 invitations went out to 2506 people in Levenmouth but less than 20 per cent actually attended a health check session.

At a session in Methilhill last week, 16 people had booked to take up the health check but on the day, only seven turned up.

The health assessment includes weight, height and waist measurement and cholesterol and glucose testing. Lifestyle is also looked at and referrals can be made to other services that can help reduce any risk found.

The team also makes referrals to GPs for their patients who require further investigation, treatment or advice.

Fiona Duff, Keep Well Link Nurse, said: “There is often no outward sign of CHD or diabetes – many people are diagnosed because they have a heart attack or a stroke – but by coming for a Keep Well health check, the nurse can assess a person’s risk and, with some supported changes, that risk can be lowered and heart attacks and strokes can be prevented.”