Health matters

Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.
Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.

AS part of our ongoing series of health columns, Julie Hirst, public health specialist for NHS Derbyshire County, including Buxton and the High Peak, talks about the new health check being offered to patients.

Everyone is at risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes or kidney disease. But these diseases can often be prevented, and a health check can help you by assessing your risk and giving you personalised advice on how to reduce it.

Health checks are now being offered to patients aged between 40 and 74 who do not already have any of these conditions. NHS Derbyshire County has announced that 81 GP surgeries across Derbyshire have now started undertaking Health Checks – which can help people find out if they are at risk of potentially fatal illnesses.

Many of these illnesses don’t have any obvious symptoms, but can be prevented, controlled or even reversed.

During the 30-minute checks trained staff look at a number of factors which could indicate a patient’s future risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease. These include medical history, lifestyle, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, age, ethnic background and height and weight. All the results are explained fully at the end of the check.

NHS Health Checks give patients and their GPs a clearer picture of the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease, so that early action can be taken. Even if you feel well it’s a good idea to be checked so that these common diseases are picked up before it’s too late.

Everyone who receives a Health Check will be given advice and information on improving their health. They will also be given personalised advice on how to lower risk and improve their health through lifestyle changes or through prescribed medication and treatment given by their GP. They will also be able to find out more about services in the area that can further help.

Eligible patients aged between 40 and 74 will be invited to attend a Health Check every five years. Anyone who needs more specialist help will be referred to a GP, or a relevant NHS service.

For more information about NHS Health Checks go to www.nhs.uk/Planners/NHSHealthCheck/Pages/Overview.aspx.