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Cardiovascular health screening can pick up the need for lifestyle changes that could reduce heart and circulatory diseases, the cause of death for one in four people in the UK. Dr Nick Summerton makes the case for screening taking place in the workplace.
The classic image of a health check is a middle-aged executive wired up to a treadmill. But cardiovascular fitness continues to be a critical area of concern for health and wellbeing, given the basic risks of modern, sedentary lifestyles.
Heart and circulatory diseases are the leading killers worldwide and the cause of death for one in four people in the UK. However there are important ways that prevention and screening have moved on since the days of the treadmill that OH professionals should be aware of.
There is often an assumption that heart and circulatory problems are only an issue for employees aged over 50. But high cholesterol can be genetic (known as familial hyper-cholesterolaemia), rather than the result of eating too many fatty foods, and it can affect an estimated one in 200 people who tend to be unaware of their condition and the risks associated with it.
Risks for younger employees
Younger employees can also suffer from abnormalities like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (the thickening of the heart muscle, which causes sudden death in young athletes), or Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome, which can lead to an abnormally fast heart rate.
Heart defects are the most common treatable birth abnormality, and ongoing monitoring of affected individuals from a young age will help to manage what is known as GUCH (grown-up congenital heart disease).
For all these reasons Bluecrest Wellness offers ECG checks and cholesterol testing for staff from the age of 18 upwards.
Traditional tests have not always been successful in picking up the whole range of potential cardiovascular system threats, meaning that people have not been able to take action and change their diet or lifestyle in time.
Research suggests that one in five people who have had a heart attack were not originally considered to be in either the “high” or even the “moderate” risk category based on the standard information of age, sex, ethnicity, cholesterol level, blood pressure, smoking status and family history.
Tests involving exercise can be risky for someone with an existing, un