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A team of researchers, led by the Radcliffe Department of Medicine, has found that a single, integrated health check carried out in a primary care setting can accurately predict risks for diseases across multiple organs.

doctor sits on sofa filling in a form © Image by pressfoto on Freepik

Currently, GPs are often limited to assessing the risk of diseases one at a time, a process that is time-consuming.

The new study, published in the BMJ Evidence-based Medicine, used data from nearly 230,000 participants in the UK Biobank. It was supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

The researchers showed that information that is already being collected as part of the primary care health check could feasibly be combined into a single calculator providing 10-year risk estimates for multiple diseases across related organ systems of heart, brain, liver and kidney.

As well as confirming that risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol were linked to the risk of diseases in these organs, the researchers also found that other factors not usually considered as part of standard risk assessments - like mental health, inflammation, sleep quality or medication use – were also significant.

The lead author on the paper, Celeste McCracken from the Radcliffe Department of Medicine said: "Our findings suggest that primary care providers could use a single set of easily collected information to simultaneously generate multiple disease risk scores. This could significantly streamline the process, potentially improving early disease detection and prevention efforts."

The study also provided evidence around the potential accuracy of remote health risk scoring. “This data shows that it is possible to derive decent multiorgan risk estimates from information that can be collected remotely. We understand the NHS is resource-constrained, and this could have huge implications for people in hard-to-reach places,” McCracken added.