The 'Bus de la Salut' has carried out early diagnosis tests for cardiovascular and renal disease on 10,700 people

Since the start of the project in 2015, 59 municipalities in the province of Lleida have been visited, with more than 110,000 kilometres travelled

The 'el Bus de la Salut' team of healthcare professionals has carried out early diagnosis tests for cardiovascular and kidney disease on 10,700 people since the project began in January 2015. ‘El Bus de la Salut' is a pioneering research project in Spain to make Lleida the first district with a firm commitment to the prevention of cardiovascular and renal diseases and the promotion of health policies in this area. Since the start of the project, 'el Bus de la Salut' has visited 59 municipalities, covering 110,167 kilometres.

The project has been divided into three stages. The first phase took place from 2015 to 2018, in which 8,330 people underwent early diagnosis tests. In the second phase, which began in 2019 and is due to end in 2021, 2,370 people have been recited, so far, to return to 'el Bus de la Salut' and see their evolution. During this time 110 people have been referred to a specialist (neurologist or vascular surgeon), to avoid a cardiovascular event. Due to the health situation caused by COVID-19, from November 2020 until February 2021, a sub-study has been carried out on 270 people to assess the after-effects of COVID-19 on project participants, people with cardiovascular and renal risk factors.

The president of the Diputació de Lleida, Joan Talarn, accompanied by the deputy for Public Health, Albert Bajona, presented the research carried out by the group led by Dr. Marcel-lí Bermúdez, scientific coordinator of the 'el Bus de la Salut' project, at a press conference on Monday.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. Every year, in Spain, more than 100,000 people suffer a stroke. The main risk factors for suffering a cardiovascular disease are hypertension, diabetes, smoking, high levels of fats in the blood and obesity, among others.

For all these reasons, the 'el Bus de la Salut' project was launched in 2015 to change unhealthy habits and raise awareness of the importance of preventing cardiovascular and kidney diseases, as well as their risk factors. In this phase, from 2015 to 2018, 8,330 people underwent early diagnosis tests, 4,222 women and 4,108 men. The main results were that more than 71% had some type of atheromatous disease, i.e. a reduction in the calibre of the arteries due to the accumulation of fatty plaques, the main cause of suffering a cardiovascular event. Kidney disease was also detected early in 15% of the people visited. In addition, 53% had high cholesterol levels, 33% had blood sugar levels suggestive of pre-diabetes, 60.9% had poor adherence to physical activity, 36.9% were obese and 52.8% had poor adherence to the Mediterranean diet.

The second phase of the study, from 2019 to 2021, will allow the evolution of these people to be monitored. In addition, more tests for the early diagnosis of vascular diseases have been included, such as an electrical bioimpedance scale, a new test to estimate the percentage of fat and too much muscle in the people mentioned. It is a non-invasive measuring method based on the electrical properties of the human body, the composition of the different tissues that make it up and the total water content of the body.

The state of alarm caused by COVID-19 prompted the project staff to join the project to carry out rapid diagnostic tests from April until October 2020. The team collaborated with Primary Care of the Department of Health with the performance of 735 serological tests and 9,069 PCRS tests, at 84 residences and 43 municipalities. In addition, a comparative sub-study was conducted to look at the sequelae of COVID-19 in project participants. This analysis was carried out from November 2020 to February 2021, with 270 people (135 project participants who have had the disease and 135 people who have not had the disease as a control group).

The 'el Bus de la Salut' project has received recognition from the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIPonAHA), an initiative of the European Commission, as a leading project in active and healthy ageing and innovation. Specifically, the project has received the rating of four stars, the maximum awarded by EIPonAHA, and this is the score that Catalonia has obtained as a leading health ecosystem and a benchmark for European institutions and organisations in the field of innovation in active and healthy ageing.

The deputy for Public Health, Albert Bajona, the president of the Diputació de Lleida, Joan Talarn, Dr. Marcel·lí Bermúdez, scientific coordinator of the project