Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of premature death in the western world. It is the leading cause of preventable illness since many of the conditions, if caught early, are treatable with proven and effective prevention measures.
The purpose of heart screening is to detect heart abnormalities early. This means that treatments can be given and interventions made in people whose heart abnormalities may have otherwise gone undetected. Early diagnosis means lives saved.
Many heart conditions, such as Ischaemic Heart Disease, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), Coronary Artery Disease, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Hypertension, and Atrial Fibrillation are common yet may cause no symptoms whatsoever for many years before presentation, so their detection requires screening.
Heart screening has been compulsory in all teenagers and adults competing in athletic sports in Italy since 1982. Many other European countries offer similar cardiac screening programmes including France, Greece, Spain, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Poland.
In the UK, all adults over the age of 40 are encouraged to attend for a vascular risk check. As yet, however, screening for other types of heart disease is largely unfunded by the NHS. Some limited services are provided by charities such as Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and a few other small private companies around the country.
Often, screening is able to exclude abnormalities and provide reassurance and peace of mind for customers.
The NHS offer guidelines on the screening services they offer and guidance on private screening choices. You can access this information at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-screening/