Prime Minister and healthcare experts urge to take care of your hearth


2022 09 29


In commemoration of the World Heart Day, Chairperson of the Seimas Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen and the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) under the Ministry of Health urged the residents to take the state-offered opportunity and check their health for free under the cardiovascular disease prevention programme.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that this disease takes 18 million lives every year. Four out of five deaths are caused by heart attacks and strokes, and one third of these deaths occur prematurely – in people under the age of 70.

Lithuania is no exception. According to the Institute of Hygiene, over 23 thousand residents died due to diseases of the circulatory system last year. That is 100 lives more than the year before last. The morbidity statistics is growing as well with nearly 914 thousand people suffering from these diseases last year. That is 40 thousand more cases than last year.

Health experts agree that ditching harmful habits, having a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, a comprehensive medical health check-up performed on time is equally important. Risk factors can be measured at primary healthcare institutions and show an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and other complications. According to WHO experts, identifying patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease and providing them with appropriate treatment can prevent not only serious illnesses, but also an early death.

‘Statistics show that cardiovascular diseases have become a real scourge of the age. The situation is truly serious. But we cannot give up, because otherwise the price is dear – our health and our lives. To change this situation, we should start with ourselves: not only protect our hearts by engaging in a healthier lifestyle, but also be proactive in visiting the general physician for regular check-ups. Thankfully, Lithuania is able to offer quality healthcare services and screen the population for the risk of cardiovascular diseases free of charge. People should simply visit their general physician and use this opportunity, offered by the state.’ says Čmilytė-Nielsen, Chairperson of the Seimas.

The health insurance funds have been funding the cardiovascular disease prevention programme from the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund (CHIF) for already sixteen years. The programme is offered for men, aged 40-54 (inclusive), and women, aged 50-64 (inclusive), who can visit their general physicians take part at the programme once a year. A general physician will determine the risk factors and, if needed, issue an individual cardiovascular disease prevention plan. Should the physician determine a high risk of cardiovascular diseases, a patient will be referred to a specialised centre for a more detailed examination.

Although cardiovascular diseases are most common and take most lives, fewer than half of the eligible population go for the free preventive check-ups. According to NHIF, last year, the cardiovascular disease prevention programme was participated by a little more than 291 thousand people, but that is only about 44 per cent of the target group in Lithuania.

‘Diseases of the circulatory system are really dangerous not only because of their prevalence in society, but also because the main cardiovascular disease shows no symptoms and could result in an unexpected heart attack or a stroke. This makes it crucial to diagnose cardiovascular diseases as early as possible in order to start treatment with medical advice and medicine. A thorough examination of a patient’s health to diagnose a possible risk of disease takes only a single annual visit to a general physician. Only early diagnosis enables the medical staff to see what is hidden and, very often, save patient lives.’ emphasized NHIF Director Gintaras Kacevičius.

According to data, provided by Lithuanian healthcare institutions, last year, a high risk of cardiovascular diseases was diagnosed to as many as 8 per cent of the patients that were examined under the preventive programme. Thus, they were lucky to prevent the spread of the disease, because of a timely visit to a general physician.

The health insurance funds allocate increasingly larger CHIF funds for cardiovascular disease prevention programmes every year. The amount allocated in 2020 was 10.4 million Eur, last year – 11 million Eur, and this year – already 12 million Eur.

Currently, CHIF funds are used to finance five preventive programmes: cervix cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. People, covered by the compulsory health insurance and within the target age group, wishing to check their health under these programmes, only need to contact their general physician.

Patients that do not fall under the age range, established in the preventive programmes, but are worried about their health, should also go to their general physician. The general physician will conduct the necessary examinations and, if needed, issue a referral to a specialist physician.

(Pexels photo)

The NHIF invites you:

Your questions are welcome by email [email protected] or phone: local (8 5) 232 2222, international +370 5 232 222