The NHS Health Check in England: an evaluation of the first 4 years

BMJ Open. 2016 Jan 13;6(1):e008840. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008840.


Objectives: To describe implementation of a new national preventive programme to reduce cardiovascular morbidity.

Design: Observational study over 4 years (April 2009--March 2013).

Setting: 655 general practices across England from the QResearch database.

Participants: Eligible adults aged 40-74 years including attendees at a National Health Service (NHS) Health Check.

Intervention: NHS Health Check: routine structured cardiovascular check with support for behavioural change and in those at highest risk, treatment of risk factors and newly identified comorbidity.

Results: Of 1.68 million people eligible for an NHS Health Check, 214 295 attended in the period 2009-12. Attendance quadrupled as the programme progressed; 5.8% in 2010 to 30.1% in 2012. Attendance was relatively higher among older people, of whom 19.6% of those eligible at age 60-74 years attended and 9.0% at age 40-59 years. Attendance by population groups at higher cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, such as the more socially disadvantaged 14.9%, was higher than that of the more affluent 12.3%. Among attendees 7844 new cases of hypertension (38/1000 Checks), 1934 new cases of type 2 diabetes (9/1000 Checks) and 807 new cases of chronic kidney disease (4/1000 Checks) were identified. Of the 27,624 people found to be at high CVD risk (20% or more 10-year risk) when attending an NHS Health Check, 19.3% (5325) were newly prescribed statins and 8.8% (2438) were newly prescribed antihypertensive therapy.

Conclusions: NHS Health Check coverage was lower than expected but showed year-on-year improvement. Newly identified comorbidities were an important feature of the NHS Health Checks. Statin treatment at national scale for 1 in 5 attendees at highest CVD risk is likely to have contributed to important reductions in their CVD events.

Keywords: Health check; PRIMARY CARE; cardiovascular risk; cardiovascular risk prevention.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • England
  • Female
  • General Practice
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • State Medicine