All pharmacies in England will be able to offer targeted cardiovascular (CVD) screening to patients aged over 40 from this autumn.
NHS England said the newly-commissioned Hypertension Case-Finding service will see participating pharmacies offer patients blood pressure checks from October.
Pharmacists will case-find and offer the tests to people showing symptoms, NHS England said.
They will also provide clinical and lifestyle advice or referral, and record the data, joining up services and treatment with GPs and other local services, it added.
Pilots of the new service, which have run since 2019, have also informed NHS England’s plans for flu and Covid booster vaccination sites to offer health checks this autumn.
However it had said those checks – of which vaccination centres are still awaiting detailed plans – would also include heart-rhythm and cholesterol checks.
The pharmacy ‘advanced service’ will involve two stages: the first a ‘clinic check,’ which will involve identifying people at risk of hypertension and offering them blood pressure monitoring.
The second stage, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), will only be necessary if clinically indicated.
Contractors who adopt the service will initially receive a £440 set up fee, £15 for each clinic check and £45 for each ambulatory monitoring.
Over the next five years 3,700 strokes and 2,500 heart attacks could be prevented as a result of the tests, and around 2,000 lives could be saved, NHS England estimates.
Pharmacies will also be able to begin offering a smoking cessation advanced service from January next year, aimed at patients recently discharged from hospital.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director said: ‘More high street heart checks for blood pressure will mean more rapid detection of killer conditions and quicker treatment for patients who need it.
‘Pharmacies are in the heart of communities and so they are ideally placed to provide these convenient checks so if you are worried about your health, please do get tested – it could save your life.
‘The NHS Long Term Plan aims to crack down on killer conditions and this action by pharmacy teams will go a long way in helping us achieve our ambitions of saving more lives.’
Additional reporting by Isabel Shaw, reporter at Pulse’s sister title the Pharmacist