A project to reduce the number of people dying prematurely from cardiovascular disease in some of the most deprived communities in Cwm Taf is to be extended across Wales, the Welsh government has announced.

Lessons learned in the pilot schemes in Cwm Taf and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board areas will now support other boards to develop similar initiatives.

The Inverse Care Law Programme was initiated to identify patients at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and deliver a programme of community-based intervention.

Patients in Cwm Taf were assessed using new computer software for their risk of a heart attack and stroke in the next 10 years.

More than 600 people were screened in six months in the successful Health Check pilot project and the initiative is to be rolled out across Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The Cardiovascular Risk Reduction programme deploys healthcare support workers in GP practices. The health care professional can compare a person’s heart age with their actual age using specific software which analyses patient health check results.

All patients who attend are given advice on lifestyle, such as smoking, drinking and exercise, along with support and treatment, if required, to lower their risk of developing heart disease.

Patient Sarah Restall, from Aberfan, was identified as a result of the Health Check at her GP practice. She said that the programme saved her life.

I was invited to come into the practice for some tests and when I was told I had a heart age of 65 and I was 51 at the time it frightened the life out of me,’ she said.

‘It gave me the shock I needed to do something about it and within two days I gave up smoking. The team has been great – they were there for me.’

Victoria Norman, the Project Manager for Cwm Taf Health Checks, said, ‘The engagement with GP practices has been key to the programme. The enthusiasm of the staff to deliver the programme has also been a factor in its success.’

Source: Cwm Taf University Health Board