21/11/2012 06:02 GMT

Having A ‘Check Up' Won't Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease, Research Suggests (PICTURES)

General health checks do not reduce the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease or cancer, researchers suggest.

The checks, which have become common practice in some countries including the UK, do however increase the number of new diagnoses.

The NHS Health Check programme aims to help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

People between the ages of 40 and 74 who have not already been diagnosed with one of the conditions are invited once every five years to have a check to assess their risk of disease.

But the new study from the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Denmark suggests that such programmes do not reduce morbidity or mortality.

The research, published in the British Medical Journal, examined 14 studies looking into the effect of general health checks.

"General health checks did not reduce morbidity or mortality, neither overall nor for cardiovascular or cancer causes, although they increased the number of new diagnoses," the authors write.

"Current use of general health checks is not supported by the best available evidence."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "By spotting people who are at risk of heart attacks, diabetes, stroke and kidney disease we can help prevent them.

"The NHS Health Check programme is based on expert guidance. Everyone having a health check is offered tailored advice and support to manage or reduce their risk of developing serious health conditions."