The NHS Health Check is a free check-up for individuals aged between 40 and 74. It is your choice if you decide to take up a health check. The reason for the health check is to assess you for age-related diseases that become more common as you age. These include heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, and dementia. The health check gives you the opportunity to identify any risks early and better prepare you for the future so that you can make informed, proactive steps to improve your health. If you have no other medical conditions, this health check is recommended to be repeated every 5 years.
An NHS Health Check is typically no longer than 30 minutes. You are usually asked some questions about your family history and lifestyle by the health care assistant or nurse at your doctor's surgery. They will then measure your height, weight, and blood pressure and there will usually be some routine blood tests to check your full blood count, kidneys, and other routine markers.
You will receive your blood test results later but at the end of the consultation, you will also receive tailored advice about how to reduce your risk of developing any of the previously mentioned diseases. This could consist of dietary advice, fitness, and lifestyle changes, and after review of your results, may involve starting medications too. If you are older than 65 you will also be given information on symptoms and signs to watch out for dementia.
They are important to address any modifiable risk factors. These could include reducing your weight, improving your level of activity, improving your diet, helping you to cut down on smoking or alcohol, and addressing and reducing your cholesterol and blood pressure. All of these factors individually and collectively put you at greater risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and dementia if not addressed.
Yes. Research suggests that NHS Health Checks are effective. Through screening for the most common diseases, which affect more than 7 million people in the UK, there is an increased chance of picking them up at a health check. As a result of advice and treatment, it is estimated that in its first 5 years the NHS Health Check prevented 2,500 heart attacks or strokes.
The latest research suggests that for people attending NHS health checks roughly;
• 1 in 40 people are diagnosed with high blood pressure
• 1 in 140 people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
• 1 in 9 are identified as being high risk of cardiovascular disease
Your local doctor's surgery will invite you for an NHS health check automatically every 5 years between 40 and 74 years old if you have no other conditions. If you do, you will be followed up more regularly for that condition. If your doctor does not offer this, then your local authority will send you a letter to explain where to go. This can sometimes be done at a local pharmacy or leisure centre or even library. If there is any doubt or you haven't heard in the last 5 years then contact your doctor's surgery to discuss this further.
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