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What happens at an NHS Health Check?

How to prepare for your NHS Health Check

If you have booked an appointment for an NHS Health Check, find out in advance whether you need to do anything to prepare. Some GP surgeries may provide you with a form to have a blood test before your Health Check appointment. Your invitation letter should give you all the information you need.

You will not usually need to prepare for your NHS Health Check if you have it while out and about, such as while you're at your local gym or leisure centre.

On the day of your NHS Health Check

Your NHS Health Check will be done by a healthcare professional. This will usually be a nurse, but it could also be a doctor, pharmacist or healthcare assistant. The check takes about 20 to 30 minutes. There will be questions, measurements and tests.

You'll be asked some simple questions, including:

  • whether any of your close relatives have had the illnesses being checked for
  • if and how much you smoke
  • how much alcohol you drink, if any
  • how much physical activity you do

Your weight and height will be measured to work out if you are a healthy weight for your height.

Your waist may also be measured using a tape measure.

Your age, gender and ethnicity will be recorded.

Your blood pressure will be taken using a cuff fitted over your upper arm – find out what happens during a blood pressure test. Your pulse should be taken too.

You will either have a blood test before or at the check. You may also have a small sample of blood taken from your finger during the appointment to check your cholesterol level and possibly also your blood sugar level.

Find out more about what happens during a cholesterol test

Getting your results

You'll usually be told your NHS Health Check results during the appointment.

You'll be given a cardiovascular disease risk score, which is an estimate of how likely you are to get heart disease or have a stroke in the next 10 years. You'll also find out your possible risk of developing kidney disease and diabetes.

The higher your risk score, the more likely you are to develop one of these illnesses.

Depending on your score, you'll be given advice about how to lower your risk with lifestyle changes.

This could include talking about how to:

  • improve your diet
  • increase the amount of exercise you do
  • lose weight
  • stop smoking

You may also be referred to local services, such as stop smoking and physical activity services, to help you make any changes.

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

Your risk scores

Everyone is given lifestyle advice to help improve their cardiovascular risk. If your risk score is in the higher range, you may be prescribed medicines (called statins) to lower your cholesterol level.

You may also be asked to come back for more tests to check for high blood pressure or diabetes, or to see if your kidneys are healthy.

A summary of the results of your NHS Health Check will be recorded in your confidential medical records, which can be accessed by a GP and other healthcare professionals who need to see it if you consult them. You'll also be given a copy for your records.

Find out more about your NHS Health Check results and action plan

Page last reviewed: 28 November 2019
Next review due: 28 November 2022