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Wolverhampton Information Network
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NHS Health Check

Everyone is at risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and some forms of dementia. The good news is that these conditions can often be prevented – even if you have a history of them in your family.

The FREE NHS Health Check is available to adults aged between 40 and 74 once every five years and will help you to take steps to maintain or improve your health.

Please watch the video below for more information:

Why should I have an NHS Health Check?

There are certain things that will put you at great risk of developing these diseases, including:

  • being overweight
  • being physically inactive
  • not eating healthily
  • smoking
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol

If you are aged between 40-74 and have not already been diagnosed with any of the conditions listed below, you will receive an invitation for your NHS Health Check from your GP once every five years.

  • heart disease
  • chronic kidney disease
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • atrial fibrillation
  • transient ischaemic attack
  • inherited high cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolemia)
  • heart failure
  • peripheral arterial disease
  • stroke

Please remember, if you are concerned about any aspect of your health, contact your GP practice to discuss these - please don't wait for an invitation for your NHS Health Check.
If you think your NHS Health Check is overdue, please speak to your GP practice.

Mike talks about his NHS Health Check

Terry talks about his NHS Health Check

What does the NHS Health Check involve?

The check will last about 20 to 30 minutes and you’ll be asked some simple questions. For example, about your family history and choices which may put your health at risk. Your height, weight, age, sex and ethnicity will also be recorded. Your blood pressure will be taken and there will also be a simple blood test to check your cholesterol level.

Please watch the video below for more information:

What happens to the results of the NHS Health Check?

The results will be discussed with you and how you can reduce your risk and stay healthy. You’ll be taken through your results and told what they mean, some people may be asked to return at a later date for their results.

Some people will require further investigation for such things as type 2 diabetes, blood pressure and kidney disease. Some people may require medication to maintain their health.

Where can I find out more about the NHS Health Checks?

More information is available on the NHS Health Check website where further support can be found to help you reduce your risk.

Digital NHS Health Check Pilot

Wolverhampton is currently trialling online NHS Health Checks, giving residents the opportunity to complete their regular health check from the comfort of home, and therefore you may receive an invitation via SMS or email from your GP practice to complete your NHS Health Check online. Everyone else will continue to be offered an in-person check in the usual way.

If you are sent an invitation for a digital health check you will be invited to answer a series of questions online to give us a better overall understanding of your health status. You may also be offered a blood test at home or be asked to book an appointment to come in for a blood test and blood pressure reading. If you choose to be sent a home blood test kit you will be sent full instructions on how to collect the sample and return it to the lab.

Other tools for you

Visit the Check Your Health page and take the How are you? Quiz to find out how healthy your behaviours are.

If you are over 30 years old, you can also find out how healthy your heart is by using the heart age tool or get your 10 year risk score for cardiovascular disease.

FAQs: Myth Busting

1. Why do I need an NHS Health Check, there is nothing wrong with me?

The NHS Health Check is a chance for people, aged 40 – 74, to get specialist advice so they can take early steps to lower their risk of getting certain condition and improve their chances of a healthier life.

Even if a person’s risk is quite low, there are still small changes they can make, such as through eating well and moving more which can have an impact on their health.

2. Why do you have to be over 40 or under 74 to have an NHS Health Check?

The NHS Health Check is for people aged 40 – 74 years old, who do not already have a certain conditions such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and vascular dementia or anyone on statins.

Younger people generally have a much lower risk of getting these conditions, so checking people in this group would not be an effective way for the NHS to address these health problems.

Many people over 74 will already be under the care of their doctor for either a cardiovascular condition or other illness, so will be regularly monitored by their GP.

It is recommended, however, that all adults are aware of their blood pressure and other measures such as their BMI, for more information please visit Check Your Health page.

3. What is the evidence for the NHS Health Check?

The tests that form part of the NHS Health Check have been proven in large, long-term studies to be able to detect cardiovascular conditions and assess people’s risk of developing these problems.

For example, the Framingham heart study provided the first clear evidence that heart health could be affected by both lifestyle factors, such as smoking, and health factors, such as high blood pressure.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is currently developing a research and evaluation strategy and set up the NHS Health Check Expert Scientific and Clinical Advisory Panel who will be able to further investigate the effectiveness of the programme in addressing some of the most serious public health issues. Here you can find further support and information.

4. What are the risks of having an NHS Health Check?

Prior to receiving the NHS Health Check, you should be asked to provide consent for the information to be collected and your results saved on your primary care record.

There are minimal risks associated with the NHS Health Check itself but there are some risks associated with having the blood tests, which your healthcare provider will explain. These are largely related to the procedure itself and in ensuring that the correct results are acted upon. If you do have any concerns, please discuss these with your nurse or doctor.

5. Is the NHS Health Check just an opportunity to tell people they are overweight and unhealthy, why have a programme just for this?

The NHS Health Check provides an opportunity for people to take control over their own health; it is not the aim to point out unhealthy lifestyles, but to support and provide advice on taking positive steps to improve lifestyles by changing diet/ eating well and moving more.

The NHS Health Check will work out a good estimate of a person’s risk of conditions such as heart disease or stroke over the coming years. If a person is at high risk, there is plenty that can be done to reduce their chances of developing these conditions, including changes to diet, levels of physical activity or even preventative medication.

6. The NHS Health Check is embarrassing, making people feel ashamed and guilty over their lifestyles, it does little to motivate people to make positive changes.

All health tests can cause anxiety and embarrassment whether the person has a healthy lifestyle or not.

The NHS Health Check provides an opportunity for people to take control over their own health; it is not the aim to point out unhealthy lifestyles, but to support and provide advice on taking positive steps to improve lifestyles by changing diet/ eating well and moving more.

This is certainly not a service to be critical of lifestyles but to provide information and support, enabling people to take control of things which could lead to ill health and early death.

7. Why is money being spent on healthy people when ill people who need prescriptions, dental care etc have to pay for it?

We know that there is a huge burden of disease associated with potentially avoidable conditions such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and kidney disease. These conditions are not only devastating to those affected but are also a huge burden on the NHS and social care services.

The NHS Health Check aims to tackle an individual’s risk of developing these conditions and therefore reduce the likelihood of them needing lifelong, costly, medical care in the future.

8. Being given a risk score for example, stroke in the next 10 years, based on factors that cannot be changed (ethnicity, family medical history) just causes unnecessary worry and stress.

Those with a history of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, or kidney disease in their family may be more at risk of these conditions. However, there are still simple changes in lifestyle that could help prevent the onset of these conditions and lessen the severity.

All health tests have the potential of causing anxiety whether the person lives a healthy lifestyle or not. The NHS Health Check provides an opportunity for people to assess their own lifestyle choices with the help of a professional and to take control of their own health to make positive changes that can reduce their risk of developing potentially serious conditions.

9. If the NHS Health Check is so beneficial why is it not offered to everyone who is eligible in England, and why do Wales, Ireland and Scotland not follow suit?

The NHS Health Check programme is only available in England. However, there are similar programmes being implemented across the UK. They are not necessarily the same and often the eligible age range differs to meet the specific needs of the public’s health. In Wales, a Health Check programme started in 2013 while in Scotland a ‘Live Well’ programme began in 2006.

10. Why do men in the UK have an increased risk of dying young from vascular illnesses?

Statistically, men are more likely to be smokers, heavy drinkers and those under 75 years old have higher blood pressure than women. Middle-aged men are more likely to be obese than women in this age group. Men are also less likely than women to go for health checks or visit their GP to discuss any health concerns; they often delay or avoid talking to anybody about serious health issues.

11. Is this just another campaign which simply targets the ‘worried well’?

No, everyone has a chance of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease or Type 2 diabetes. The NHS Health Check is an evidence-based way to identify those at risk earlier. Those who have an NHS Health Check are informed of their results and advised on lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of getting serious health conditions. If patients require a prescription, they’ll be given that too.

12. Encouraging people to attend the NHS Health Check is just for statistics, there is no interest in the actual benefits to the individual.

It is clear that there is a major health threat from preventable conditions and evidence shows that those aged 40 to 74 years old are most at risk. By assessing risk, raising awareness and discussing lifestyle and medical management the NHS Health Check will help people to reduce their chance of developing conditions such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and stroke.

However, in order to maximise the benefits to public health it is essential that the impact of the programme continues to increase – it is recommended that everyone eligible takes up the offer of this free, simple check. Public Health England will continue to support the development of the programme ensuring it is accessible and benefiting those that need it across the country.

13. I am not sure if I have had an NHS Health Check?

If you are unsure if you have had an NHS Health Check then speak to your GP practice and they will be able to tell you if you have had a check.

14. I am over 40 – why haven’t I received my letter for a check? Can I ring my GP to book one?

You will receive an invitation to an NHS Health Check if you are between the ages of 40 and 74 and are not already on a disease register or taking statins. If you have not received an invitation, you will receive one, but you may have to wait. The NHS Health Check should happen once every five years so you can see if your risk has changed.

If you are concerned that you have not yet received your invitation, don’t worry, give your GP practice a call. If you are not registered with a GP it is, however, important that you do this. Here you can Find a GP,or find out how to register with a GP surgery.

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