NHS Health Check

Your NHS Health Check guide

What is an NHS Health Check?

The NHS Health Check is a sophisticated check of your heart health. Aimed at adults in England aged 40 to 74, it checks your vascular or circulatory health and works out your risk of developing some of the most disabling – but preventable – illnesses.

Think of your NHS Health Check as being your "midlife MOT". It checks that some of your body's most important systems are all running smoothly. Among other things, your blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI will all be checked and your results given to you. 

Crucially, your NHS Health Check can detect potential problems before they do real damage. Everyone is at risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and some forms of dementia. The good news is that these conditions can often be prevented.

Your NHS Health Check will assess your risk of developing these health problems and give you personalised advice on how to reduce it.

It's free of charge, including any follow-up tests or appointments.

Why the NHS Health Check is important

Thousands of people have already had an NHS Health Check. They are now armed with information and support to reduce their risk of developing heart and vascular problems. Why not join them?

Together, the vascular conditions identified by the NHS Health Check are the biggest cause of preventable deaths in the UK, affecting more than 4 million people.

Every year, the NHS Health Check is expected to help:

  • save 650 lives
  • prevent 1,600 heart attacks and strokes
  • prevent 4,000 people from developing type 2 diabetes
  • detect at least 20,000 cases of type 2 diabetes or kidney disease earlier

If you want to avoid being a statistic, it's worth making an appointment for an NHS Health Check as soon as you get your invitation.

Find out more about why you should have an NHS Health Check.

How to get an NHS Health Check

You'll be invited for an NHS Health Check every five years if you are between 40 and 74 years old, as long as you don't have an existing vascular condition.

You'll usually get your NHS Health Check at a GP practice or local pharmacy, but it could happen at other convenient places in your neighbourhood, depending on where you live. Find out more about ways to get the NHS Health Check

Even if you don't qualify yet for an NHS Health Check, there are plenty of other ways to build up a picture of your health.

Start by taking the online heart age test now to see how healthy your heart is. 

What happens at the NHS Health Check

At the check, you'll be asked some questions about your lifestyle and family medical history. You'll also have some routine tests. From these, your healthcare professional will be able to give you an idea of your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. As well as a breakdown of your results, you'll get an overall score giving your risk of getting heart disease or stroke. If you're over 65, you will also be told the signs and symptoms of dementia, and you'll be made aware of memory services nearby.

After your results have been explained, you’ll be offered personalised advice and support to help stay healthy, and lower your risk if any of your results need improving. This advice could include suggestions on small changes to your diet or how much exercise you should take if your risk is low or moderate.

If you are at higher risk, your healthcare professional might want to discuss whether you should be taking medicines to control your blood pressure or cholesterol, along with help to take action such as losing weight, becoming more active or stopping smoking.

By having a routine NHS Health Check for these conditions every five years, you can take action early and greatly improve your chance of a longer, healthier and happier life. You may be surprised how some small, long-lasting changes to your lifestyle can make a huge difference.

How the NHS Health Check will help

Once you've had your NHS Health Check, you'll have a good idea of what your risk is of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and certain types of dementia. There are some risk factors for these diseases that can't be changed; for example, your risk increases with age. But there's a lot you can do to reduce your risk. You can:

Your NHS Health Check will give you information and support to help you reach your health goals and enjoy a better quality of life. By acting to reduce your risk, you'll have more chance of dodging the debilitating and potentially disabling effects of illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and stroke.

For more details, read FAQs about the NHS Health Check.


Page last reviewed: 01/05/2014

Next review due: 01/11/2016

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