Preventing cancer, heart attacks and strokes with the NHS screening programmes and QRISK3

Preventing cancer, heart attacks and strokes with the NHS screening programmes and QRISK3

Good health is essential for a happy and fulfilling life, and regular health screenings are an integral part of maintaining your wellbeing.

The UKs NHS screening programmes offer a wide range of tests and check-ups that can help detect potential health issues before they become major problems. In this article, we’ll guide you through the UK’s screening scene, so you can stay ahead of the game and enjoy a long and healthy life!

The UK’s Health Screening Programmes

The NHS offers a variety of health screenings, including cancer screening programmes, cholesterol tests, blood pressure checks, and diabetes screenings. These tests can help identify potential health problems early on, allowing for prompt treatment and better outcomes. Whether you’re young or old, healthy or not, regular health screenings are essential for maintaining good health, and the UK’s screening scene has got you covered.

Prioritise your future health and engage in NHS screening programmes

It’s important to understand what each screen or test involves and what the results mean. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek advice from healthcare professionals.

Finally, make sure you schedule regular screenings based on your age, gender, and medical history. For example, women aged between 25 and 64 are recommended to have cervical screenings every three years, while men over the age of 50 are recommended to have bowel cancer checks. By following these guidelines and staying on top of your health, you can help prevent potential health problems and enjoy a long and healthy life

Why do we screen for some diseases and not others?

An expert group called the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) advises the NHS on which screening programmes to offer.

When considering who to screen and which conditions to screen for, the benefits of offering a screening programme are weighed up against the harms. The UK NSC only recommends screening when it believes the benefits to the group offered screening outweigh the harms.

The UK NSC regularly reviews its recommendations on screening for different conditions as new research becomes available. This is usually done every 3 years.

To read more about what criteria is assessed when the NSH decides upon a screening programme click the link below:

Non-gender specific NHS screening programmes

Diabetic eye screening

From the age of 12, all people with diabetes are offered an annual diabetic eye test to check for early signs of diabetic retinopathy.

Bowel cancer screening

Everyone aged 60 to 74 is offered a bowel cancer screening home test kit every 2 years.

If you’re 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every 2 years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

Women specific NHS Screening programmes:

Cervical screening

Cervical screening is offered to all women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 to check the health of cells in the cervix. It is offered every 3 years for those aged 25 to 49, and every 5 years from the ages of 50 to 64.

Breast screening

Breast screening is offered to women aged 50 to 70 to detect early signs of breast cancer. Women over 70 can self-refer.

Men specific NHS Screening programmes:

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening

AAA screening is offered to men during the screening year (1 April to 31 March) that they turn 65 to detect abdominal aortic aneurysms (a dangerous swelling in the aorta). Men over 65 can self-refer.

QRISK 3 is not a screening tool but how does it fit into preventative medicine?

Overview of Qrisk3 Risk Assessment

Qrisk3 is a validated tool that assesses an individual’s risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke, within the next ten years.The tool was developed by a team of researchers in the United Kingdom and is widely used by healthcare professionals worldwide.

The risk score is calculated as a percentage, with a higher score indicating a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Factors Considered in Qrisk3 Calculation

Qrisk3 takes into account several factors when calculating an individual’s risk score. Age is one of the most significant factors, as the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases increases with age. Gender is also an essential factor, as men are generally at a higher risk of developing heart disease than women. Smoking status is another significant factor, as smoking damages the heart and blood vessels, leading to the development of cardiovascular diseases.

Blood pressure is another crucial factor, as high blood pressure can damage the arteries and lead to the development of heart disease. Cholesterol levels are also taken into account, as high levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease. Diabetes is another factor that can significantly impact a person’s risk of developing heart disease, as high blood sugar levels can damage the arteries and lead to the development of cardiovascular diseases.

Factors inputted to QRISK 3

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Smoking status
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Severe mental illness
  • Migraines
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Corticosteroid use
  • A person’s weight
  • Physical activity level
  • Alcohol consumption.

Click the link below to visit the QRISK3 website:

What do the results mean?

If your QRISK3 score is over 10% then you would be offered a statin, this lowers cholesterol and stabilises cholesterol plaques on arterial walls which can cause strokes and heart attacks. The national institute of clinical excellence (NICE) have announced we should be offering statins to all those with a QRISK3 score of 5% or more.

Qrisk3 is a comprehensive and reliable tool that healthcare professionals can use to assess an individual’s risk of developing cardiovascular diseases over the next ten years. Healthcare professionals can use this information to identify patients who are at high risk and administer early interventions to prevent heart disease development. These interventions include medicines (statins, blood pressure lowering medications) and lifestyle advice e.g. stop smoking, reduce excess alcohol, maintain a health weight and do more exercise.

Qrisk3 and our NHS screening programmes are both tools that can help us lead longer and healthier lives.