Health assessments and health screenings offer a highly valuable method for assuming responsibility for our well-being, particularly as we age and get older.
As we age, our vulnerability to conditions like cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia increases. The primary objective of a health check is to detect initial indications of these diseases, which in turn can help to reduce the risk of developing them or slow their progression. In England, health assessments are available to all individuals aged 40 to 74, every 5 years.
The typical adult health assessment generally consists of the following:
· Determining Body Mass Index (BMI)
· Measuring Blood Pressure (BP)
· Blood tests to check your cholesterol
· Alcohol use score
· Physical activity assessment
· Diabetes risk assessment
· Smoking status assessment
· Identifying potential early indicators of dementia
Risk score: Following your health assessment, you will receive a risk classification of low, medium or high. This will determine or indicate any probable likelihood of developing these lifestyle diseases within the next 10 years.
An NHS health check helps to identify strategies to lower this risk by providing tailored guidance, such as enhancing dietary habits, increasing physical activity, managing weight, considering medication options, stress reduction, reducing alcohol intake and stopping smoking.
Health checks are straightforward to access and typically occur at GP surgeries or local pharmacies. Additionally, these may be accessible at libraries, leisure centres, mobile units, and even workplaces in certain regions.
You don’t need to wait for an NHS health check to enhance your health awareness. Here are some tips about how you can take care of your health:
· Take the online ‘Heart Age Test’ to assess your risk and susceptibility to heart disease or stroke: https://www.nhs.uk/health-assessment-tools/calculate-your-heart-age
· Identify if you’re a health weight by using the BMI healthy weight calculator online: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/bmi-calculator/
· Take the ‘How Are You’ quiz to gauge your overall health status: https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/how-are-you-quiz/
· Explore the Diabetes UK website and find your risk of type 2 diabetes with the ‘Know Your Risk’ tool: https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/start
Following your health assessment, if any areas have been identified as high-risk, then screening can serve as a valuable tool. It aids in identifying a higher chance of developing a specific health problem, which can enable you to make informed decisions about your health and where necessary, early treatment can be offered to you.
It has become increasingly evident that individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes face a heightened susceptibility to certain types of cancer, particularly breast, bowel, and endometrial cancers. For this reason, it is important to attend your screening appointments, as these are designed to look for early signs of cancer in people without symptoms.