NHS Health Checks are a free, regular check-up of your overall health. Think of it as an MOT for your body. They aim to keep you running smoothly and reduce the chances of problems developing further down the road.
Health checks are for people who are generally healthy and well. Your first invitation will come after you turn 40, and then every five years afterwards up to the age of 74.
If you have a long-term condition or regularly receive treatment, your overall health will be managed as part of your annual reviews instead of an NHS Health Check.
What is it?
As we get older, our chance of getting ill or developing specific health conditions increases.
The aim is to spot any early signs in healthy people that could increase the risk of stroke, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, or dementia.
Age is one risk factor that we can’t control, but there are plenty of other factors we can. The purpose of a health check is to identify any risk factors in your diet or lifestyle that you can reduce with some simple changes.
During your appointment, a healthcare professional will ask you some questions about what you eat and drink, whether you smoke, and what physical activity you do.
You will be scored on a range of factors, along with suggestions for reducing the risk of serious conditions developing.
How it helps you
Health checks are about prevention rather than treatment. The aim is to stop you from getting ill as much as possible. That’s why people in generally good health are invited to them.
They help patients to understand how their current lifestyle and habits could negatively influence their health in the future.
Equally, it’s also useful for people to see how some simple changes will significantly increase their chances of staying healthy as they get older.
The most common ways to reduce your future risk involve improving your diet, cutting back on alcohol, giving up smoking, losing weight and getting more regular exercise.
As well as advice and guidance from the healthcare professional who carries out your check, the NHS has a wealth of resources to help you achieve your goals.
You can see the types of support available to you on the Live Well pages of the NHS website.
What to expect
Once you turn 40, you will be invited to book an NHS Health Check either by Newcastle City Council or us.
Nurses do most health checks, but it could also be a Doctor, Clinical Pharmacist or Health Care Assistant who sees you.
Appointments typically last 20-30 minutes and usually occur in the GP practice.
You will have your height, and weight measured, including your waist measurement, your blood pressure taken, and a small blood sample taken.
There is no other physical examination, and you won’t be asked to remove any of your clothes or asked any questions you may find embarrassing.
Your healthcare professional will ask about your diet, whether you drink or smoke, how much exercise you do and if there is any family history of stroke, dementia, diabetes, or kidney disease.
After you have answered all the questions, you will get your health check score before the end of the appointment. Your healthcare professional will talk you through your results, which show your chances of developing certain conditions, and what you can do to keep yourself healthy for longer.
You can find out more about NHS Health Checks at NHS.uk.