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CVD screening boost

Screening for cardiovascular disease by searching practice computer records can identify the vast majority of at-risk patients, a new study reports.

The strategy estimates Framingham scores for every patient on a practice list.

Full assessment of the 20 per cent judged at highest risk would identify 78 per cent of patients eligible for treatment and prevent 87 per cent of avoidable cardiovascular events, the study found.

Without searching computer records, a screening programme would have to assess 85 per cent of the population to achieve the same results.

NICE is considering the virtual screening strategy, which Pulse first reported on last month, for its lipid modification guidelines.

The National Screening Committee has already committed itself to using computer record searches as a central plank of the planned cardiovascular screening programme, to limit the impact on GP workload.

Study leader Dr Tom Marshall, senior lecturer in public health at the University of Birmingham, said: 'It means screening can be made manageable because the data are already there.'

Dr Marshall, whose study is published in August's British Journal of General Practice, added: 'It doesn't have to be 20 per cent – you can tailor it according to the capacity of your practice.'

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