We can’t escape the changes age brings but there’s lots we can do to stay well so we can continue to do the things that are important to us. For many approaching or in our 40’s, 50s, 60s and 70s life is busy, and projects at work, redecorating the house, planning the next holiday or even our retirement can make it easy for things like our health to slip our minds. So what can we do?
Being proactive about our health and wellbeing is important, that’s why the NHS offers a free NHS Health Check to those aged 40 – 74 without a pre-existing cardiovascular condition. A free 30 minute NHS Health Check can help you to spot the early signs of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease or type 2 diabetes. You’ll be given personalised advice and support to help you maintain or improve your vascular health ensuring you continue to feel great for longer.
Ken, 72, from Leeds attended his NHS Health Check a year ago. Leading an active life and feeling healthy, Ken thought his results would come back fine. However, it turned out they weren’t what he was expecting.
Ken spoke to me about his experience and why he feels it’s important for others to attend their health check.
“I got a letter from my doctor inviting me to go for my health check a year ago, I didn’t think I particularly needed one, but it was free and seemed like a good idea so I went along.
The health check itself was very good; I had blood tests and a couple of other checks. A few days later the doctor called me and asked me to come back to the surgery. It turned out my blood sugar levels were very high and I had diabetes. My instant response was “are you sure you’ve got the right blood?” as I’ve always considered myself very fit and healthy. I volunteer at a school and get up at 6am to work at the breakfast club and in the afternoons I run the sports club. I’ve always worked out as well so didn’t think there was anything to worry about. I was honestly really shocked when I was told I had diabetes.
When I was diagnosed the doctor gave me loads of information on lifestyle changes I could make. With diabetes there’s no cure and it gets worse over time so if you don’t look after yourself you can end up with things like having toes amputated and that which I obviously didn’t want. I also hate needles, so managing my blood sugar levels as much as I can with my diet will prevent me from having to inject insulin later down the line.”
How’s life changed since you’ve been diagnosed?
“Since I’ve been diagnosed I’ve made some drastic changes, I’m now vegetarian and don’t eat any processed food. I’ve also cut out all chocolates and sweets and I check the sugar content on things like cereals when I’m shopping which I never did before. I have blood tests every six months and my levels have been good every time and that’s just maintained by diet control. Despite having diabetes, I feel really fit and healthy and can continue doing the things I’ve always done.
I would advise others to go for their health check as you don’t always know if you have an underlying condition like in my case. With a health check you can catch things early before they get really bad. “
Thanks Ken for sharing your experience, you’ve highlighted why it’s important to attend your NHS Health Check even if you are feeling fit and healthy.
Jennifer Gridley, Communications Officer
To find out more about the NHS Health Check visit: www.nhs.uk/nhshealthcheckLeeds or speak to your GP.
You can also start making changes today with these health apps and trackers