Test can help to reduce the risk of dementia

Fewer than half of people over 40 who are eligible for a free NHS health check in England have actually taken the test, figures show.

The 20-minute assessment screens for heart problems, type 2 diabetes and kidney disease to help prevent the development of dementia.

However, it has only been taken by a minority of the 15 million eligible people over the past five years, according to NHS England.

Vascular dementia is caused by a lack of blood supply to the brain, which subsequently causes the surrounding cells to die. The chances of developing vascular dementia can be escalated by a stroke, which suddenly cuts off the blood supply to part of the brain.

Everyone between the ages of 40 and 74 with no pre-existing health condition is automatically eligible for the health check once every five years.

James Waterall, who leads on the programme at Public Health England, said: “The NHS health check looks at the top causes of premature death and ill-health but more importantly supports people to take action of reducing their risk of preventable conditions such as dementia and heart disease.”