As you may well know I turned 40 years old in May. A couple of months later I received a letter from my GP inviting me to go for an NHS Health Check. This health check is offered every five years to adults in England aged between 40 and 74 who don’t have any pre-existing medical conditions. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from my NHS health check so I thought I would share my experience with you.
The NHS health check is designed to spot the early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia. If these things are caught early you can be offered treatment, or advice on how to improve your health to avoid problems in future. The theory is that not only is this better for patients as it will help them to avoid any problems before they happen, but it will also help to ease the pressure on the NHS in caring for these patients if the problems are not picked up until they are much harder to treat and manage.
What happens in an NHS Health Check?
My health check was made up of two parts. At my first appointment I was weighed and had my blood pressure checked. The nurse also took a couple of blood samples and these were sent away to be tested. Finally I was asked a few questions about my overall health, my alcohol consumption and activity levels, and any family history of cardiovascular disease. The appointment lasted about 10 minutes and another appointment was made for me to go back three days later to discuss the results of my health check.
The follow up appointment
Three days after my initial appointment I went back to my GP’s surgery to discuss the results. To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. From the blood samples that had been taken earlier in the week they had tested my thyroid, liver function, kidney function, cholesterol and done a full blood count. I have been intermittent fasting for 10 months now and I know that it can sometimes raise a certain type of cholesterol in the short term. However, all of my results came back as in the normal range.
The best results
In fact, the nurse told me that my results were the best she had ever seen! My BMI is still sitting in the slightly overweight bracket but it’s not really anything to be concerned about and I am working to bring it down further. My blood pressure was 105/60 which is quite low, but that is normal for me and it doesn’t cause me any ill effects. My cholesterol was well within normal limits.
All the results from the NHS health check are combined together and used to give you a ‘heart age’. My heart age was 34 – which is 6 years younger than my actual age! I was also give a score for my risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years. The average risk for a 40 year old female in the UK is 0.9%. Mine was 0.4%!
I’m so pleased that my results were good – I wish I had some from before I started Intermittent Fasting so I could see if that has helped or if I’ve always been healthy. I’ve been going to a proper yoga class for an hour every week for the last four weeks too so maybe that has been helping too.
Having this NHS health check now at 40 also means that I now have a set of baseline results. So when I go back in 5 years they will be able to see how things have changed, and it will be easier to pick up any potential problems in future.
The nurse also explained to me that if my results hadn’t been so great they could either refer me to the doctor for appropriate treatment, or they would monitor more regularly rather than waiting another five years.
I’m very happy that I took up the offer of the NHS health check. Hearing that everything on the inside is healthy has made me feel better about myself on the outside too. My weight isn’t as low as I would like it to be at the moment but these results have encouraged me to stick with IF and ‘trust the process’ . People in my Facebook groups always say you have to heal on the inside before your body will start making changes to the outside. If these results are anything to go by then there can’t be much more healing to do and I’m hopeful that I’ll start seeing those external results soon too.
Have you been for an NHS health check? Is it something you think is important?