NHS Health Check

Helping you prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and dementia

What is an NHS Health Check?

What happens at the health check, and how to get one

Everyone is at some risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and some forms of dementia. An NHS Health Check aims to help you lower your risk of developing these common but often preventable diseases.

You will be invited for a NHS Health Check once every five years if you are between 40 and 74 years old and haven't already been diagnosed with vascular diseases or have certain risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol treated by medication.

At the check, your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes will be assessed through some straightforward tests and standard questions about your lifestyle and family medical history. You’ll be offered personalised advice and support to help you lower that risk and stay healthy. This could include suggestions on small changes to your diet or how much exercise you take if your risk is low or moderate. If you are at higher risk, you might be offered things such as medicines to control your blood pressure, along with help to take action including losing weight or stopping smoking.

It makes sense for all eligible people to have a routine NHS Health Check for these conditions every five years. That means you can take action early, and greatly improve your chance of a healthier and longer life. Small, long-lasting changes to your lifestyle can make a huge difference.

Changes since April 2013

From April 2013, responsibility for the NHS Health Check programme moved to your local authority, which will invite anyone who is eligible to have a check over a five-year rolling cycle. That means everyone aged between 40 and 74 who hasn’t already been diagnosed with any of the conditions mentioned above will be invited for an NHS Health Check.

The check is likely to be offered in GP surgeries and local pharmacies. They may also be offered at other suitable and accessible locations in your community.

In the meantime, if you're worried about your health, don't wait for your NHS Health Check. Contact your GP in the usual way.

You can find out more about how to get the check in NHS Health Check and you.

What will happen at the NHS Health Check?

There are two parts to an NHS Health Check. First, you will be asked a few simple questions and have a few straightforward health tests. These will allow an assessment of your risk of developing four diseases: heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and kidney disease.

The check will take around 20 to 30 minutes:

  • You’ll be asked some simple questions about your family history, whether or not you smoke and how much alcohol you drink.
  • Your height, weight, sex, ethnicity and age will be recorded.
  • Your blood pressure will be taken.
  • A simple blood test will check your cholesterol level.
  • Your body mass index (BMI) will be calculated. BMI is a measure of whether you're a healthy weight for your height.

After this, a healthcare professional (who could be your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist) will give you your results and explain what they mean. In some instances, tests may have to be sent away for analysis. This means that some people won't get their test results immediately and may be asked to return at a later date for this discussion.

You’ll have the opportunity to ask for advice and support on maintaining good health, and on lifestyle changes that will help you to improve your health. If necessary, you’ll be offered treatments that will help: for example, medicine to lower raised blood pressure.

If you are aged 65 to 74, you'll also be given general information about dementia, how to reduce your risk of developing it and where to find more information about it and the type of support services available in your area.

Why is the NHS Health Check important?

An NHS Health Check will help to identify your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and certain types of dementia. Together, these vascular diseases are the biggest cause of preventable deaths in the UK. They affect more than 4 million people.

Everyone is at some risk of developing these diseases. But by identifying that risk early and taking steps to reduce it, you can improve your chance of maintaining or improving your health as you get older.

You can find out more about these diseases in Why these conditions?

How the NHS Health Check will help

Once the NHS Health Check has shown you your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and certain types of dementia, you'll find out what you can do to reduce your risk. That may mean lifestyle changes such as eating a healthier diet, cutting down on alcohol, or increasing the amount of physical activity that you do.

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:

  • maintain a healthy weight – learn more in Lose weight
  • be physically active – learn more in Fitness
  • eat a healthy and balanced diet – learn more in Food and diet
  • stop smoking – learn more in Stop smoking
  • cut down on alcohol – learn more in Alcohol

If you're at higher risk, those changes may be combined with medical treatments, such as medicines to lower raised blood pressure or cholesterol. You may be offered NHS support to help you stop smoking or lose weight.

These changes can help you to improve your health and prevent a disease that may otherwise have developed. NHS Health Check is expected to prevent 1,600 heart attacks and strokes a year and save 650 lives.

NHS Health Check and NHS LifeCheck

NHS Health Check and NHS LifeCheck are two different, but complementary, checks.

The NHS Health Check is a face-to-face assessment with a healthcare professional. The check is for adults between 40 and 74. It will assess your risk of important vascular diseases, then provide tailored advice and support to help you lower or manage this risk. NHS Health Check is the subject of this section of NHS Choices.

NHS LifeCheck is an online interactive tool that can help people aged 12 and above to take steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Users of the tool are asked for a few key pieces of information, including their gender, height and weight. The LifeCheck tool uses this information to direct users to useful information and advice on a range of key health issues, including weight, smoking, alcohol consumption and mental health.

Page last reviewed: 15/05/2013

Next review due: 15/05/2015

Comments

The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

TallulahA said on 31 May 2012

I went for a health check recently but was only tested on my cholesterol, which was fine. As I have some health issues which I have found impossible to address with my GP because of difficulty of getting appointments I had high hopes of at least being reassured that I have nothing significant wrong. Sadly I have lost faith in the healthcare system in my area.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

lovedupone said on 23 January 2011

I'm due to have an NHS health check on February 19th. I'm 53 years old, female.

There is a cahance i may have high cholestorol, but if offered statins, can I refuse them for ny own reasons?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

hange said on 11 January 2010

I am a 44 year old male, and would like to benefit from this service(nhs healthcheck) so can any one help me find the health centre or hospital at which I can get checked.

Many thanks

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Glenn Carroll said on 06 January 2010

In the following statement you say statins to lower blood pressure - shouldnt is say medication?

Also I beleive statins are to lower cholesterol - not blood pressure.



You’ll be given advice and support on maintaining good health, and on lifestyle changes that will help you to improve your health. If necessary, you’ll be offered treatments that will help: for example, statins to lower raised blood pressure.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Coronary heart disease (CHD)

Coronary heart disease (CHD) causes heart attacks and is the UK’s biggest killer. But by no means all heart attacks are fatal, and there's plenty you can do to avoid having one.

Media last reviewed: 21/10/2013

Next review due: 21/10/2015

Media last reviewed: 10/01/2013

Next review due: 10/01/2015

Media last reviewed: 08/04/2013

Next review due: 08/04/2015

Search for services

Find NHS services near you