Health check up (health screening)

What is a health check-up (health screening)?

A public (NHS) health assessment is a free check-up of a patient’s overall health. It is recommended to have one every five years if a person is aged between 40 and 74 and without a pre-existing condition. A health assessment is a preventative measure to help find health problems before they start. They can also tell whether a person is at risk of developing certain health problems, which include:

  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Stroke
  • Dementia (in patients over the age of 65)

The different types of examinations and screenings depend on the patient’s age, health, family history and lifestyle choices such as food, activity levels and whether they smoke.

What is the right health assessment for me?

When having a health check-up with a private doctor, the following will be taken into consideration beforehand:

  • Age – whether in the following groups 18-39, 40-64 or 65+
  • Gender
  • If there are any issues that the patient wants to discuss
  • Family history – cancer, bowel disease, strokes, heart attacks, diabetes
  • Fitness levels

What are the benefits of a health check-up?

The benefits of a regular check-up include:

  • Reduces the risk of becoming sick
  • Detection of potentially life-threatening diseases early on
  • Increase chance of treatment and cure of health conditions
  • Decrease risk of complications by monitoring ones that exist
  • Increases lifespan
  • Reduces overall healthcare costs over time

What happens during a public health check-up?

A public health check-up takes about 20-30 minutes. A health professional will ask simple questions about the patient’s lifestyle and family history. They will measure the patient’s height and weight, take their blood pressure and do a blood test. From this assessment, they will be able to give them an idea of their chances of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes. The nurse will then advise the patient on how to lower their risk, discussing diet, exercise, medications and stopping smoking.

Where can I have a public health check-up?

Organising a public health check-up depends on where the patient lives. Most commonly, health assessments are held at a local GP surgery or pharmacy. It could happen in other places in the area such as a shopping centre, library or leisure centre. Some public health checks occur in mobile units for people who pass by and in the workplace.

How can I have a private health check?

If a person has private medical insurance schemes, they may find that their policy covers health checks through their place of work or provides some discount for health checks. For medical investigations, the patient requires a GP referral, although with some health assessments a person may be able to self-refer.

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