50+ health * Healthy living

Free NHS health checks for over-40s

Free NHS health checks for over-40s Aims to reduce heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and kidney disease

NHS health checks are to be brought in for the over-40s age group, beginning from April 2009. The aim is to identify people at risk from heart attacks and stroke and offer detailed advice and assistance on how to reduce their personal risk. Department of Health estimates suggest this could prevent up to 1600 heart attacks and strokes each year, and save 650 lives.

Everyone aged between 40-74 in England will start to be invited for a free health check to find those at risk of diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

The health checks are part of a drive to ensure that people from this age group have the necessary information about their health in order to make important lifestyle changes and reduce their risks of developing diseases like diabetes and coronary heart disease. Currently, these conditions affect the lives of 4 million people in England and are responsible for a fifth of all hospital admissions.

The health checks will consist of:

  • Straightforward questions to patients on their health and diet, exercise habits and family medical history
  • Height and weight measurements taken from patients
  • A simple blood test for cholesterol and in some cases for glucose levels
  • A follow up assessment setting out the individual's level of risk and what they can do to reduce this
  • Advice on how to reduce your risk including: weight management programmes, stop smoking, physical activity programmes

The preventative checks will be rolled out across England from April and will be fully implemented by 2012/13. They are likely to be available at GP surgeries, health centres, walk in centres and pharmacies to ensure as many people benefit from them as possible.

"The NHS is becoming more personal and responsive to individual needs; becoming as good at prevention and keeping people healthy as it is at providing care and cures; and able to offer the information and support people need to make healthy choices," commented Health Secretary Alan Johnson.

April 1 is also the date when the abolition of NHS prescription charges for everyone undergoing treatment for cancer, the effects of cancer, or the effects of cancer treatment, will also come in to effect.

This article was published on Mon 30 March 2009

Image © Phase4Photography - Fotolia.com

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