Most people only go to see their GP when they’re already poorly. This type of reactive healthcare is fine; however, preventative healthcare is arguably more efficient. This is where annual health checks come in. When you have your health assessed more regularly, you become more knowledgeable about it and, therefore, more empowered to make decisions regarding your health. Potential issues can be caught and treated early, which really could be the difference between life and death.
What is a Health Check?
A health check is different from any other appointment you make with your GP. This is because there doesn’t tend to be any health concerns or catalysts that have led to the making of the appointment.
Of course, if there is a cause for concern, then this is something that you should raise during the health check, but generally, your health overall is assessed and tested. Think of it like an MOT for your health. A doctor looks under the hood, so to speak, to ensure you’re roadworthy.
It is considered preventative, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t experience health issues or that you won’t develop a health problem in the future. What it does mean is that the chance of catching health issues early is a lot higher; your doctor can also recommend lifestyle changes that you should make to reduce your risk of developing certain conditions.
What Should My Health Check be Looking for?
Your yearly health check should be comprehensive. Otherwise, what is the point? There are a few things that you should receive, and if not, you should ask for the following:
- Blood pressure check
- Physical exam
- Weigh-in & BMI
- Cancer screenings (for example, mammogram, smear, testicular cancer exam, prostate exam)
- Hearing test & eye test (but those are likely to be carried out separately by an optician)
- Vaccinations & boosters as necessary
A bowel cancer screening is also recommended for older people. Bowel cancer screening age is between 45 and 75.
Risk Factors Explained
Risk factors refer to genetic or environmental factors that can increase your likelihood of developing certain health conditions. Some risk factors can influence each other because some can be modified. For example, you might have a family history of cancer which can mean that you are genetically predisposed to developing it yourself. Still, you could increase your likelihood by smoking or drinking excessively or continuing with any other health-damaging activities.
Risk factors that you can modify are environmental factors like your lifestyle that can have an effect on your health, but they are changeable. These factors can increase or decrease your risk depending on whether you take them seriously or not. Non-modifiable risk factors, like genetic predisposition to developing certain factors, are outside your control.
Identifying these risk factors can go a long way in helping you make the best health choices. If you’re in London looking for a blood test, you could go to Bioma. The blood test could discover that you are prediabetic then you will need to make a few changes to your diet and lifestyle to ensure that you don’t receive the diabetic diagnosis.
Unfortunately, as it stands, not every disease or health condition has a cure, nor can it be prevented. However, there are a few health issues that are indeed preventable with the right approach. Conditions like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, respiratory conditions and kidney disease can all be treated and cured if caught early enough.
Knowing the risk factors makes you better positioned to be proactive regarding your health. As mentioned above, you cannot completely reduce your risks entirely, especially because some of them are non-modifiable. However, you can do your best to reduce them and make strides towards a healthier lifestyle. You can gradually make changes, starting with small amendments to create a healthier lifestyle for yourself.
Where Does the Health Check Come in?
Going for annual health checks (most people aim for yearly health checks, at the least, although others prefer to go six-monthly) can help your doctor to get a more comprehensive view of your health. In doing so, they have a better idea of your baseline, making it easier to identify anomalies which makes treating them a lot easier. If you indulge in unhealthy activities, then they are all the more important.
It is definitely an easy thing to forget as you get on with things but try to think of it as part of your routine. You don’t forget to service your car and get an MOT on it every year, so realistically, you shouldn’t forget this either. The insights gleaned from the health checks should also affect your routine and be tailored to them. It also helps your doctor get a well-rounded view of your health, and they are much more likely to notice subtle shifts and changes.
You should have annual health checks carried out even if you feel perfectly fine and healthy because it helps to provide a baseline for future health checks to be measured against. Firstly, by getting regular check-ups, you can catch any potential issues as soon as possible and receive the necessary diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible, which – without being dramatic – can really be the difference between life and death. The doctor can also take into account a number of different factors that could affect your health and screen as necessary for them.
The blood tests given during a health check can also dive into your health more deeply, looking for different issues that may not have been picked up on otherwise. They often leave markers in the blood even if there are little to no physical symptoms. They can be a vital diagnostic tool, especially when different conditions present similarly in their physical symptoms. Simply put, a health check allows you to understand your health better. You know exactly where you stand, and you can then make the necessary lifestyle changes.
Finally, today, stress is all but unavoidable; it has simply become a part of the fabric of our daily lives. However, long-term stress is really bad for you. It can lead to a myriad of health problems, both physically and psychologically. Dealing with stress is not always easy because the source of the stress tends to remain pretty constant. Regular health checks can tell you how your body deals with stress. The results can also let you know when you need to take a break or how you can deal with the stress in a better way.
The Bottom Line
Truthfully, getting an annual health check shouldn’t be a discussion – it should just be par for the course. It helps to reduce your risk of getting ill because the doctor is able to detect health risks and conditions in their infancy and treat them before they get too serious. Before you can be in any position to take care of anyone else, you must take care of yourself. The outcome could be the difference between life and death.
It might seem an annoyance, but it’s one day a year – unless you decide to go more frequently, of course – all of the tests can be carried out quickly. Then you have to wait for the results, which will likely be sent to your doctor in a couple of days for them to discuss with you.