Dr David Crichton’s blog: NHS health checks save lives

This is a transcript of my My View column that was published in the Doncaster Star on Monday 8 August, 2016

One of the key aims of involving you more closely in managing your health and well-being is not only to prevent illness but to add years to life and life to years.

The NHS is moving from being a sickness and cure service, which treats people when they are ill, to one of wellness and health prevention.  managing long term medical conditions and other issues relating to ageing are becoming of increasing concern to us, as is having the resources needed.

In Doncaster we have an ‘early warning’ project called NHS Health Check which enables adults aged 40-74 who haven’t any identified health problems to get a free midlife ‘MOT’.  It checks blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels, weight and lifestyle factors – such as exercise and smoking – enabling us to identify your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

Over the next few years, Doncaster people in this age bracket will receive a letter from their GP inviting them to a free check, but in the meantime there local events where you can get checked out.

As we age, our risk of developing something potentially serious like high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes increases.  A quick check can hopefully spot early risk factors to help prevent them from happening.

After the check, the health worker will discuss your results and, if necessary, give you advice and support to help you lower any risks.

So why are these health checks so important?

In the year to the end of March 2016, nearly 7,000 NHS Health Checks were carried out in Doncaster and around one-third of those people were found to be at increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five to ten years.

012Many checks were carried out at GP practices like West End Clinic in Rossington.  Doncaster’s Director of Public Health, Dr Rupert Suckling – pictured – recently presented GP Dr Ayesha Zafar, and colleague Joanna McNabb, with an award for the high number of patients checked there.

Over twice as many men as women were found to be at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, yet more women than men tend to have a check. There’s an important message here if you know a Doncaster man who fits the health check criteria – please prompt them to have one.

Nearly four per cent of Doncaster people have coronary heart disease and 15 per cent have high blood pressure, but we know there are others who have these conditions but have not yet been diagnosed with them. Early identification of risk factors followed up with early management, will reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

If you would like to find out more about the health check, contact your GP, or visit https://hallcrossmedical.co.uk/. The health check team also run drop-in sessions at community events in Doncaster – check their website for one near you.

 

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