Supporting the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease
In collaboration with the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria, we have produced an overview of near-patient tests for cholesterol.
Heart and circulatory disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, causes a quarter of all deaths in the UK. The NHS Long Term Plan aims to tackle this by identifying more people at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease through NHS Health Check. This free health check-up, for adults in England aged 40 to 74, includes a blood test for cholesterol. The NHS Long Term Plan would like to improve the programme by equipping GP surgeries, pharmacies and other places in the community that offer NHS Health Checks, with technology allowing blood tests to be done quickly and easily. Point of care tests (POCTs), which are done near the patient rather than in a laboratory, could be used in the check-up since they produce rapid results. However, the use of unreliable POCTs could lead to false reassurance or unnecessary treatment.
In 2021, the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) approached the NIHR Newcastle MIC to collaborate in this area. Together we have produced an impartial overview of the POCTs for blood cholesterol that are currently commercially available.
Using a complex multi-step process, we systematically identified 44 studies associated with 16 POCTs for cholesterol. We obtained and presented the published analytical and clinical validity data on these tests. We also extracted the technical specifications of each test. Four devices we found met the requirements of the National Cholesterol Education Program standard of evidence for bias and precision.
We have presented our findings in a report which we believe will support the NHS Health Check programme in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease.
Read the full report.