A free health check that could spot signs of deadly diseases has been taken by less than half of over-40s, the NHS has reported.
The free screening tests will be able to give you an indicator of your chances of getting heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes.
Of the 15 million people eligible to take the rests, only a minority have taken it.
The test is a 20-minute-long assessment and everyone between 40 and 74 with no pre-existing health conditions is automatically eligible for the check. It is advised that this check should happen every five years.
What happens at the NHS Health Check?
- You will be asked some simple questions about your lifestyle and family history
- Your height and weight will be measured
- Your blood pressure will be taken
- You will have a blood test – often using a small finger prick test
If you’re over 65, you will also be told the signs and symptoms of dementia to look out for.
The assessment is part of the NHS’s goal of improving early diagnosis of dementia.
Laura Phipps, Head of Communications at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
There is good evidence to suggest that what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain, but while 77% of people believe they can reduce their risk of heart disease, only 34% of people know they can reduce their risk of dementia.
Research shows that midlife is a crucial time to take action that will help maintain a healthy brain into later life. With dementia now the UK’s leading cause of death, we must encourage everyone to take positive steps to maintain good brain health throughout life and into older age.
Jamie Waterall, who leads the programme at Public Health England, said:
The NHS health check looks at the top causes of premature death and ill health but more importantly supports people to take action of reducing their risk of preventable conditions such as dementia and heart disease.
Griffin, A. (2018). Millions of people failing to take free test that could spot deadly diseases, NHS warns. Accessible: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/health-check-up-nhs-test-alzheimers-dementia-diabetes-heart-disease-doctor-a8705866.html. Last Accessed: 25 February 2019.
NHS. (2019). What is an NHS Health Check? Accessible: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-health-check/what-is-an-nhs-health-check-new/. Last Accessed: 27 February 2019.