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NHS Health Check

What is an NHS Health Check?

The NHS Health Check is a free check-up of your overall health. It can tell you whether you're at higher risk of getting certain health problems, such as:

If you're over 65, you will also be told the signs and symptoms of dementia to look out for.

If you're aged 40-74 and you haven't had a stroke, or you don't already have heart disease, diabetes or kidney disease, you should have an NHS Health Check every five years. 

Any follow-up tests or appointments are also free of charge.

How will the NHS Health Check help me?

As well as measuring your risk of developing these health problems, an NHS Health Check gives you advice on how to prevent them.

The risk level varies from person to person, but everyone is at risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and some types of dementia.

Your NHS Health Check can detect potential health problems before they do real damage.

What happens at the NHS Health Check?

An NHS Health Check takes about 20-30 minutes.

The health professional – often a nurse or healthcare assistant – will ask you some simple questions about your lifestyle and family history, measure your height and weight, and take your blood pressure and do a blood test – often using a small finger prick test.

Based on this, they will be able to give you an idea of your chances of getting heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes.

If you're over 65, you will also be told the signs and symptoms of dementia to look out for.

You will then receive personalised advice to lower your risk. This could include talking about:

If you prefer, you can ask to see a man or a woman, but the questions aren't embarrassing and you won't have to take your clothes off during the check.

Read more about what happens at an NHS Health Check.

Find out about the pros and cons of having an NHS Health Check.

Where do you have an NHS Health Check?

This can vary according to where you live.

You'll usually have your NHS Health Check at a GP surgery or local pharmacy, but it could happen at other places in your local area, such as a shopping centre, library or leisure centre.

In some areas, NHS Health Checks are offered from mobile units to passers-by and in workplaces.

Look up the NHS Health Check in your area.

How can I arrange to have an NHS Health Check?

You'll be invited for a free NHS Health Check every five years if you're between 40 and 74 years of age and do not already have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease or high blood pressure.

If you're registered with a GP surgery that offers the NHS Health Check, you should automatically get an invitation. Don't worry if you haven't been invited yet – you will be over the next five years.

Alternatively, your local authority will send you an appointment letter explaining where you have to go for your NHS Health Check.

If you're not sure if you're eligible for an NHS Health Check and would like one, or if you are eligible but haven't had an NHS Health Check in the last five years, ask your GP for an appointment now.

Find a local GP.

Read more about how to get an NHS Health Check.

I'm over 74. Why can't I have an NHS Health Check?

If you're over the age of 74, you can request a health check-up from your GP or nurse if you have any particular questions or concerns.

Do NHS Health Checks work?

The health conditions picked up by the NHS Health Check are, when added together, the biggest cause of preventable deaths in the UK, with around 7 million people affected by them.

In its first five years, the NHS Health Check is estimated to have prevented 2,500 heart attacks or strokes. This is the result of people receiving treatment after their Health Check.

The latest research suggests that:

  • for every 27 people having an NHS Health Check, one person is diagnosed with high blood pressure
  • for every 110 people having a Health Check, one person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
  • for every 265 people having a Health Check, one person is diagnosed with kidney disease

What is it like having an NHS Health Check?

Read about Jane's experience of having an NHS Health Check in 'My blood pressure was too high', and Ron's story, 'I was a walking heart attack'.

I wasn't happy with my NHS Health Check. How can I give feedback?

The NHS Health Check programme is run by your local authority, so you can contact them with any questions or feedback about the way it's delivered in your area.

Look up the NHS Health Check in your area, or contact your local authority directly.

More information

You don't have to wait for an NHS Health Check to learn more about taking care of your health.

You can find information about most health conditions and how to have a healthier lifestyle on the NHS Choices website. For example:

Why have an NHS Health Check?

Dr Dawn Harper explains why going for your NHS Health Check is so important, and Ron describes how having one saved his life.

Media last reviewed: 03/05/2016

Next review due: 03/05/2018

Page last reviewed: 01/11/2016

Next review due: 01/11/2019

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Your NHS Health Check results and action plan

All about your risk scores and test results from your NHS Health Check, and how to improve them