Are You Over 40? Then Get Yourself A Free Health Check

health check
(Image credit: Unknown)

If someone asked you to help them curb the nation’s biggest killer you’d do it, wouldn’t you? Good, because the NHS, Public Health England and more than 40 other organisations are asking the over-40s to get a free health check to help dramatically reduce the number of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease.

An astonishing 25% of all deaths in the UK are a result of cardiovascular disease according to the British Heart Foundation, and of those 152,000 deaths each year, 42,000 were counted as premature, occurring in people who were younger than 75. This makes cardiovascular disease the leading cause of premature death and disability in England.

It doesn’t help that cardiovascular disease isn’t easy to spot. The main causes, namely atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, often carry no symptoms.

It’s also believed that around 620,000 people in the UK have a faulty gene which is associated with inherited heart-related conditions, meaning lifestyle may not be the primary cause for developing a condition – and even those who are seemingly fit and healthy may be at a higher risk.

Thankfully, the NHS currently offers anyone aged between 40 and 74 the option of receiving a free health check which could detect numerous problems before they start to take a toll.

The tests are quick and convenient, and can be conducted at your local GP surgery, some pharmacies, and even shopping centres, libraries and leisure centres. Just plug in your postcode to find your local health check.

The test takes between 20 and 30 minutes and involves a few lifestyle and family history questions, a weigh-in and height measurement to work out a patient’s BMI, and finally, a blood sample, which often means a simple finger prick rather than the dreaded intravenous needle. (Men need not fear a prostate check, although it’s nothing to be afraid of and should also be on your to-do list.)

From this basic check-up it’s possible to discern the likelihood of developing issues such as heart disease, strokes, kidney disease and diabetes, and if a problem is identified action can be taken to help prevent it.

Within the first five years of the NHS Health Check it’s believed that a total of 2,500 strokes and heart attacks were prevented – and that was with only half of 40 to 74 year olds taking up the offer of the test, so that number could be much higher.

Jake Stones

Jake was formely an intern for Coach and now contributes workouts from some of London’s top trainers. As well as training in the gym and running, he’s competed in the eight-hours-long overnight event Europe's Toughest Mudder twice and the 24-hours-long World's Toughest Mudder once.