Cardiovascular disease prevention is one of the major challenges of medicine in the UK and the developed world. Progress in the primary prevention of these diseases has been slow and patchy due to the difficulties and costs with the methods currently used.
We set out to see in an observational study, if computer-based opportunistic screening could be a practical and cost-effective method of cardiovascular disease prevention in a high-risk primary care practice population in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. We found that over five years, 86% of the practice population was screened and educated for their personal risk of cardiovascular disease. This was carried out at a low cost in terms of both professional and administrative time.
Using this computer-based opportunistic screening enables a profile of risk factors for both individuals and the practice to be de-veloped making the targetting of resources for prevention easy and effective. It is also possible that this programme could prove to be a cheap and targetted method of screening for coronary heart disease, diabetes and familial hyperlipidaemia.
We conclude that computer-based opportunistic screening in general practice is an effective method of reaching a whole population and can enable large-scale interventions at low cost.