The government is to set up a national programme to screen everyone between the ages of 40 and 74 for vascular diseases.
The Department of Health said the initiative could prevent up to 9,500 heart attacks and strokes every year, and save 2,000 lives.
Under the plans, outlined in the document Putting Prevention First, patients will be asked about their age, sex, family history, height, weight and blood pressure, and a blood test would measure their cholesterol.
People will also receive a “personal assessment report”, setting out their level of risk and what they can do to reduce it. This might be simple advice on how to stay healthy, access to a weight management programme, or a stop-smoking service.
Those at the highest risk might also be prescribed statin-based preventative or blood pressure treatment, said health secretary Alan Johnson.
“The NHS is becoming more personal and responsive to individual needs becoming as good at prevention and keeping people healthy as it is at providing care and cures and able to offer the information and support people need to make healthy choices,” he added.
But doctors warned it might lead to healthy people being seen at the expense of those who were really sick.
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, said: “Whether it is nurses, GPs, healthcare assistants or pharmacists who do these checks, there is not currently the workforce, the time in the day, or even the space in our surgeries to carry out this number of consultations.”