Paramedic team offer health MOTs

Friday, 05 July, 2024

More than 200 people have so far been supported by a research study which aims to help North East communities reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.

Now, North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is looking for more community groups across the region who might be willing to host a Health MOT session with the service's research team.

The NEAS Health MOT, which began in January, aims to explore if a health MOT comprising of a pulse check, blood pressure check, cholesterol check and information about how to stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption, delivered by a paramedic in the community, can help people seek further support from their GP or local stop smoking team.

Working from a patient transport ambulance, the paramedic-led team is visiting areas across the North East, with a focus on areas of deprivation, and offering members of the public aged over 40 the opportunity to have a health MOT.

Where they find a person needs additional support, they are referring them into their GP practice or local stop smoking service or their GP for ongoing support.

The trial began in January 2024 and has so far supported more than 200 people. It is due to continue until October 2024, and the team is looking for more community groups to get in touch.

Heart and circulatory disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, kills nearly one in four people in the North East of England, with one person dying every 75 minutes, according to statistics published by the British Heart Foundation. Deaths from cardiovascular disease tend to be higher in areas of deprivation.

NHS Health Checks are offered every five years to anyone without a pre-existing condition aged between 40 and 74 through either their local council or GP. However, research shows that the uptake is variable, with lower uptake in the North East.

Factors which increase a person's chance of developing cardiovascular disease include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor diet and exercise. Many of these risk factors can be treated with medication or through lifestyle changes to lower your risk.

Research paramedic Karl Charlton, who is leading on the study, said: "We know the people in the North East region - especially those living in areas of deprivation - are less likely to take up the opportunity of having their NHS Health Check with their GP, which puts them at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and, ultimately, being seen by our service.

"By visiting places where people work, live and socialise, we are aiming to increase the uptake of health checks, especially by people who wouldn't normally receive one in a traditional GP setting. The risk factors often don't have symptoms, so health checks are an important way of reducing a person's risk of heart disease and stroke.

"Through our Health MOT we offer a pulse check, blood pressure check and a cholesterol check. From that, we're able to calculate their BMI and risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years, tell them their heart age compared to a healthy person and, where necessary, make a referral to their GP practice for them.

"We can make immediate referrals for those needing same day care and we also provide general advice for those who need it regarding other aspects of health.

"It's going really well so far, with a great deal of interest in what we are offering people. We have already identified numerous people with undiagnosed high blood pressure and/or cholesterol, some of whom were at considerable risk of having a stroke or cardiac event. We have also identified several people requiring same-day care, which highlights the benefits of this research.

"By doing this work, we're therefore helping people get help early and hopefully preventing them from needing an ambulance in the near future.

"We're looking at community centres, church halls and warm zones as well as public spaces such as car parks and local shopping districts, and are particularly keen to reach ethnic minority communities and working men, who we know are less likely to visit their GP."



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