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Free NHS health checks | The benefits of getting yourself checked

Doctors encourage the use of health checks since they can often prevent the need for surgery and other medical treatments. As we get older, we have a higher risk of developing a health condition and once you reach the age of 40 you should receive a letter from your GP every 5 years inviting you for a free health check (if you are eligible).

Regular health checks identify potential health risks before they become a problem and are designed to identify where positive lifestyle changes can be made. Your doctor or nurse will be able to advise which areas of your health need improvement and how you can improve them. These health checks are designed to spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, or dementia.

An estimated 50-80% of deaths caused by cardiovascular disease are preventable; discovering that you are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease will enable you to take positive action to lead a healthier lifestyle. Likewise, lifestyle changes can also prevent Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

The benefits of regular check-ups include:
  • Reduce your risk of developing a health condition
  • Detect potentially life-threatening health conditions or diseases early
  • Increase chances for treatment and cure
  • Limit risk of complications by closely monitoring existing conditions.

According to the NHS, “in its first 5 years, the NHS Health Check is estimated to have prevented 2,500 heart attacks or strokes. This is the result of people receiving treatment after their Health Check.

The latest research suggests that:

  • For every 30 to 40 people having an NHS Health Check, 1 person is diagnosed with high blood pressure
  • For every 80 to 200 people having a Health Check, 1 person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
  • For every 6 to 10 people having an NHS Health Check, 1 person is identified as being at high risk of cardiovascular disease”.

What do health checks involve?

The NHS offers free health checks to those aged 40-74 and here is what they include:

  1. Blood tests: show your chances of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes
  2. Dementia test: if you are over 65 you will be told the signs and symptoms to look out for
  3. Family history, height, weight and blood pressure measurements
  4. Personalised advice: how to improve your diet, physical activity, how to lose weight or stop smoking and more.

Find out more

If you would like to have your health checks carried out more frequently or more in depth, you can also pay for private health checks. Private health checks can cost anywhere from £50-800 depending on how comprehensive the tests are. These checks will often include cancer screenings as well.

If you are aged 40-74 , with no pre-existing conditions listed on the NHS Health Check website you can get a health check for free. However, if you are outside of this bracket you may need to pay to go privately. You can also take this test to discover your Heart Age.