The NHS Health Check
The NHS refer to the NHS Health Check as a “midlife MOT”. While this may not be the most flattering of terms, it isn’t the worse analogy. These UK checks are carried out every five years to help patients keep track of their vascular and circulatory health.
They are provided to adults aged 40 to 74. The aim of these check-ups is simple: to provide appropriate medical testing and offer support on the next step for prevention and cure. Patients with existing vascular conditions will not be called in for these test as they should be working with specialists. The idea of a medical MOT can be daunting to those that are worried about family medical history or
The aim of these check-ups is simple: to provide appropriate medical testing and offer support on the next step for prevention and cure. Patients with existing vascular conditions will not be called in for these test as they should be working with specialists. The idea of a medical MOT can be daunting to those that are worried about family medical history or ageing. This means that it is important for patients to understand the process.
What Types Of Medical Testing Are Carried Out As Part Of These NHS Health Checks?
There are four key tests that will be carried out during this health check:
- blood pressure
All four tests are pretty quick and straightforward and should provide results during the consultation. There is a chance that other tests will be carried out during the check, or that patients will be referred for further medical testing. This should be communicated to the patient prior to the check-up.
The Cholesterol Check
Cholesterol can easily reach high levels during this mid-life phase. It is important that doctors keep an eye on it before it does too much damage. Cholesterol checks can be carried out using a blood sample and there is no need to fast. Some health check providers will do so with a needle and syringe and others will use the finger prick method.
The Blood Pressure Check
This test is more familiar to many patients because it is a standard medical testing method that many will have encountered before. The health check provider will strap the cuff to the patient’s upper arm, inflate it and take a reading. It is a simple test with instant results and can provide vital readings for determining vascular health.
The BMI check
This simple UK test is as basic as they come. Patients are simply weighed and measured to determine their body mass index. A poor weight to height ration and high BMI could be a sign of future health problems. Doctors can use this reading as a great tool for determining further lifestyle changes.
The Diabetes Check
Some patients will be deemed more at risk of diabetes than others. Those that fall under this category will be asked to take a further diabetes risk assessment. Like the cholesterol test, this is a very straightforward procedure requiring a blood sample or finger prick test. A high blood sugar reading could result in a need for further medical testing and lifestyle changes.
What Else Will UK Doctors Be Looking For In These Check-Ups?
Most doctors will carry out a simple questionnaire in order to get a better idea of a patient’s medical history and risks. There are six key criteria that will be covered. Some may seem a little personal, but it is important that patients answer honestly in order to get the best results. UK Patients are currently asked about the following:
- Family history
- Physical activity
- Alcohol consumption
Each section can help to create personalized feedback and tailored suggestions for the future. Ethnicity can help to flag up any risks. South Asian and African-Caribbean patients are at a higher risk of developing vascular health problems than other ethnic groups.
A family history of heart disease, high blood pressure or other conditions could also increase the risk in the future. Activity levels, smoking and alcohol consumption also play their part. This is the current system in the UK. There is the potential for adaptations for future tests.
Discussing The Findings And The Next Step
The thorough nature of these UK Health Checks means that patients aren’t simply subjected to medical testing and told to wait to hear from their GP. Doctors and patients can discuss the results of the questionnaires and tests to look at the next step. This will not be possible for all additional tests, as some may need to be sent off for analysis. The findings are calculated into an overall risk score and key areas of health. This breakdown helps to highlight areas of risk where improvements are needed.
This results paint a picture of the patient’s current vascular health and any warning signs. Those that appear to be exhibiting symptoms will be offered treatment options and possibly referred to other doctors for further testing. Those that appear to be healthy will be educated on what to look for and given advice on lifestyle changes. In the case of older patients, this can also include a talk on dementia awareness and information about local memory clubs.
How Can Patients Better Prepare Themselves For Their Next NHS Health Check?
The routine nature of the medical testing in these health checks means that there isn’t a great deal to prepare for. There may be some appointments where patients are asked for samples or to fast before giving blood, but this is only for certain tests.
In these cases, patients should be informed in advance to avoid any confusion or inconvenience. Patients should receive an invitation letter that provides all the necessary details on what to bring, where to go and which tests to expect. The surprise for some could be the venue. Some of these UK health checks take place in leisure centres and gyms.
NHS Health Checks Are Important For Providing Key Medical Testing, But They Don’t Have To Be Scary
There is a lot to consider when heading to these UK NHS Health Checks.
However, the comprehensive nature of the system is designed to help patients on a personal level.
Patients need to remember that the questionnaires are quick, the tests are simple and the results are pretty instant.
The results can help to highlight warning signs and offer recommendations for further treatment, potentially extending health and longevity.