Tuesday, July 08, 2008

How To Save Some 2,000 Lives Each Year?

Why is British government willing to spend a huge amount of money for a national program of vascular checks for some 3 million people a year? Let us look at the statistics.

Every year, vascular diseases kill 170,000 people in England. Conditions such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease affect the lives of 4.1 million people and account for a fifth of all hospital admissions. According to the government estimates, earlier detection by health screening could actually prevent up to 9,500 heart attacks and strokes, and thus save the lives of 2,000 every year. Therefore, setting a national program of vascular checks is compelling.

On April 1, 2008, the Health Secretary of England announced a free health-screening program for people aged between 40 and 74 for the identification of those who are at risk of vascular diseases. This program, to be introduced in the 2009-2010 financial year, would cost the government 250 million pounds including any aftercare that results from the tests. The government believes that the benefits of a healthier population far outweigh the upfront costs. The program, when operational fully, aims to check 3 million people a year with a recall every 5 years.

Presently, only around a fifth of adults have the checks that cover cholesterol level, weight relative to height, blood pressure and smoking record. Those who are at risk will be given advice on lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking and doing more exercise. In addition, those whose health is most seriously threatened will also be given medication.

In order to cover all parts of the population, including those most deprived, the government plans to offer the health checks in community centers, pharmacies and doctors' surgeries.

Though such program does draw some doubts in terms of its effectiveness, most still feel that the program would have positive results.

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