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DEFINITIVE GUIDE

Health checks explained

It is essential to stay on top of your health with a health check. As you get older, your risk of serious health conditions increases.

A full body health check can help you reduce your risk of getting a serious health condition such as heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes or a stroke.

This guide will help you understand what a health check is, what will happen during your health check and why it is essential to book your health check as soon as possible.

Written by Dr Abby Hyams and Dr Hasan Abu-Baker. Last reviewed on 18/05/2020. Next review date 18/05/2023.

Fast facts

When should I get a health check?

You should get a health check if you are between the ages of 40 and 74 and have not had a recent health check. This is especially important if you have a strong family history of heart disease, kidney disease, or stroke. We advise that you get a health check every 3-5 years.

What is a health check?

A health check is a screening or blood test that can check for early signs of kidney disease, diabetes, stroke and heart disease. A health check will check your blood, liver function, heart health, kidney function and overall health and can let you know if there are any issues you may need to be aware of. A health check is usually for adults aged 40-74. However, if you are concerned about your potential to develop a serious health issue, you can schedule your health check at any age.

Getting a health check becomes more important as you get older because you are more at risk of developing a serious health condition. You can lower your risk and start to prevent this by living a healthy lifestyle and by getting a full body health check. You will also be given advice that is personal to you on how you can improve your health.

CHAPTER ONE

Health check FAQs

It is important to get a health check to ensure you are at optimal health. As you get older, you are more at risk of developing certain conditions and a health check can help lower your risk.

This chapter explains the benefits of health checks and when you should be getting them. We can help with:

  • How often should I get a health check?
  • Why should I get a health check?

What is involved in a health check?

In your health check, you will be asked a few questions about your lifestyle and medical and family history. This will give them a better understanding of your risk of developing diseases such as kidney disease, diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

During your health check, a health care professional will take your height and weight measurements to check your BMI. This is an indicator of whether you are overweight or underweight. Your blood pressure will be taken and a blood test will also be carried out. This will indicate if you have diabetes, and if your liver and kidneys are functioning normally. All of this information will be used to work out your risk of heart disease or stroke for the coming years.

If you are getting a health check and you are over 65, you may also be checked for signs of dementia. The health check process can take about 20 to 30 minutes.

After your health check, you are given a risk score which indicates the likelihood of you getting heart disease or a stroke in the future. If your risk score is high, you may be asked to make some lifestyle changes or may be prescribed medications. You may also be asked to return for further testing.

Where can I get a health check?

If you are between the ages of 40 and 74, you will get an invitation from your GP to come in for your health check appointment every 5 years. If you haven’t received your invitation and you think you are eligible, you can book a health check with your GP if they are offering health checks.

Alternatively, you can also get a Medicspot health check by booking online. With a Medicspot private health check, a nurse will arrive at your home to take your blood samples at a time that is convenient for you. You will get your health check results in a few days with personalised advice on how to improve your health and how to reduce your risk of a serious health condition.

How much is a full body health check?

An NHS full body health check is free. You will be invited to get an NHS health check every 5 years. If you want to assess your health more frequently, you can book a private health check with Medicspot.

How will my health check results help me?

After your health check, you will receive your results and personalised advice on:

  • How to improve your dietary choices
  • How much physical activity you should be doing
  • How to lose weight
  • How to stop smoking
  • Hereditary risks to your health
  • Medicines you need to take to lower your risks
  • If you have diabetes or prediabetes

What are the benefits of a health check?

There are many benefits to getting a health check:

  • With a health check, you are able to find out if you have any risk factors for serious health conditions.
  • You may have a hereditary risk to a condition and a health check will help you understand this better.
  • A health check will give you personalised advice on any lifestyle changes you may need to make, such as quitting smoking or following a specific dietary regimen.
  • A health check can help prevent serious health conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
  • A health check gives you the opportunity to talk to a professional one-on-one about any concerns you may have.

Is a health check effective?

Health checks are very effective in spotting early signs of disease and helping you to reduce your risk of some serious conditions. A health check, however, is not an effective treatment for a serious condition. If your health check shows you have developed a health condition, you will need to talk to a doctor about what medications you need to take, if you need to undergo surgery and what further changes you may need to make to your lifestyle.

What does a sexual health check involve?

A sexual health check is different from a full body health check. A standard sexual health check allows you to test for sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, genital warts, syphilis and HIV. You should get a sexual health check if you are sexually active and especially if you have had a new partner in the past 12 months or unprotected sex that may have put you at risk of a sexually transmitted infection. This will require genital swabs, and maybe a blood sample or urine sample. You can get a sexual health check through Medicspot’s at-home blood test service.

CHAPTER TWO

Medicspot health checks

You may want to get a health check but can’t find a suitable time or date for your NHS health check appointment. With a Medicspot health check, you can get tested at home at a time that works for you.

This chapter has some useful information on what happens during a Medicspot health check and how it can help you. We can help with:

  • Where can I get a full health check in the UK?
  • When will I receive my Medicspot health check results?

What is a Medicspot health check?

With a Medicspot health check, you are able to assess your risk of developing serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and liver damage. A nurse will come to take your blood samples from the comfort of your home. Your samples will be sent to one of our world-class labs which will be tested for a range of health conditions.

What is included in a Medicspot full health check?

A Medicspot advanced health check includes an extensive set of tests to get a clear picture of your health:

  • Full blood count – this examines your blood, looking at the number and types of cells that your blood contains
  • ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) – this checks your red blood cells to check if there is any inflammation going on inside the body
  • Urea and electrolytes – measures the performance of your kidneys by looking at important salts in your body
  • Liver function tests – helps determine the health of your liver by measuring the levels of proteins, liver enzymes, and bilirubin in your blood
  • Cardiac enzyme test – helps get a clear picture of your heart health and if there is any damage to your heart
  • Bone markers – helps get an insight into your bone health
  • Glucose – this blood sugar test checks for diabetes. One person is diagnosed with diabetes every two minutes in the UK. ¹
  • Iron levels – low iron and ferritin levels can restrict your body from making enough red blood cells and make you feel tired and dizzy
  • TIBC (total iron-binding capacity) – checks if you have too much or too little iron
  • Cholesterol – checks your level of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol. Over half of adults in England have raised cholesterol. ²
  • Triglycerides – tests for the number of triglycerides in your blood. If you consume more calories than you need, the extra calories are converted into triglycerides

¹ Diabetes UK (2019) ² Heart UK (2019)

What does a Medicspot health check test for?

A Medicspot advanced health check includes a blood test which can assess your risk of various health conditions such as:

  • Anaemia
  • High cholesterol
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver damage
  • Heart muscle damage
  • Gout (bone health)
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease

What are the benefits of a Medicspot private health check?

There are many benefits to getting a health check with Medicspot:

  • You can get your health check from the comfort of your home
  • You can book a health check at a time and date that is most convenient for you
  • You will get a clear picture of your current health status
  • You will know your risk of diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease

Why do I need a health check?

It is important to get a health check every 3 to 5 years as you get older to maintain good health and prevent a major health condition or early death. Everyone is at risk of developing a health condition, however, the likelihood of developing some serious conditions increases as you get older. This is in part due to the fact that your arteries can narrow which increases your risk of developing serious conditions such as heart disease and stroke.

Is the Medicspot health check suitable for everybody?

We recommend booking a Medicspot health check if you are between the ages of 40 and 74. However, you can book a health check if you are below 40 and concerned about your health. If you are over 75, you can also have more frequent health checks and doctor visits.

Your Medicspot health check results

Once your samples have been taken, your results will be with you in a matter of days. You will receive personalised advice on what steps you need to take in order to improve your health. This may include:

  • Advice on the types of foods you need to incorporate into your diet
  • Advice on the types of foods you need to remove from your diet
  • How much physical activity you should be doing
  • How to lose weight and how much you should be aiming to lose if necessary
  • Steps to take to stop smoking
  • Medicines you need to take to lower your blood pressure
  • Medicines you need to take to lower your cholesterol
  • Steps to take to improve your heart health
  • How to get more iron and other vitamins into your body
  • Advice on if you need to cut down your alcohol intake
CHAPTER THREE

NHS health checks

You may be eligible for an NHS health check. NHS health checks are offered to you between the ages of 40 and 74 and can let you know if you are showing early signs of diabetes, stroke, kidney disease and heart disease. They will also give you a risk assessment for some of these.

The NHS is now reviewing new “intelligent” health checks to be implemented that may be more personalised to you. This chapter has some helpful information on the new and traditional NHS health checks. We can help with:

  • What does a general health check-up include?
  • What are the tests for a full body check-up?

Can I get a full health check on the NHS?

You can get a full body health check on the NHS. It is a free health check that will assess your overall health and your risk of developing serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke and dementia. The NHS health check is offered to you as you get older because you become more at risk of developing these conditions.

Who is eligible for NHS health check?

You are eligible for a free NHS health check if you are between the ages of 40 and 74 and you haven’t already been diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease.

How do I book an NHS health check?

You will receive an invitation to get a health check by your registered GP every 5 years. Alternatively, you may also receive an invitation from your local council instructing you on where to go for your health check appointment and when to book. If you haven’t received an invitation in the last five years and are between the ages of 40-74 and are concerned, you can book a health check appointment with your GP. Your doctor should be able to further advise you on if you are in need of a health check, if you need to do anything before your appointment and any actions you may need to take after your health check appointment.

What happens at a free NHS health check?

During your NHS health check, a health care professional - a nurse, doctor or healthcare assistant - will first ask you a few questions about your family history, medical history and lifestyle. This is to assess whether these factors may be causing you to be more at risk of certain conditions. Your height and weight will then be taken to calculate your BMI (body mass index) which can indicate if you are at a healthy weight. Next, your blood pressure will be taken and a blood test will be carried out. This will let you know some of your health risks.

When you get your health check over 65, you may also be advised on the signs of dementia you should be watching out for. This is because your risk of developing dementia doubles every 5 years once you are over 65.

What tests are done in the NHS health check?

Your NHS health check will include:

  • Checking your BMI
  • A blood test to assess your cholesterol level
  • Checking your blood pressure
  • A finger prick test to assess your blood glucose
  • Questions about your medical and family history
  • Questions about your lifestyle

NHS health check results

Typically, you can receive some of your NHS health check results during your appointment. Your blood test results may take a few days and you may be asked to come back to get them. With your results, you will be given a risk score which will let you know your likelihood of developing heart disease or stroke. You will also receive personalised lifestyle advice on how to reduce your risk depending on your score. This can include:

  • Advice on dietary changes you can make
  • Medications you need to be taking
  • How to lose weight
  • Advice on increasing your physical activity
  • Advice on how to stop smoking
  • What signs of dementia to look out for if you are over 65
  • Referrals to services that can help you make lifestyle changes

How long does an NHS health check take?

Your NHS full body health check will take about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. To get the best experience, you should make sure you arrive at your appointment on time and plan for your health check to possibly take longer than expected.

What is the new “intelligent” NHS health check?

The NHS is planning to introduce new, more personalised health checks. These health checks will be offered to adults aged 40 to 74 and will spot signs of major conditions which can contribute to an early death or serious illness. These evidence-based health checks will offer more tailored advice and interventions based on:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Socioeconomic factors

How will the new NHS health check help?

The NHS is exploring the ways in which the new “intelligent” health check may provide more support. It is suggested that the new NHS health check may include:

  • Targeted advice on how to reduce blood pressure
  • Further advice on musculoskeletal problems
  • Early intervention for hearing problems
  • Special health check-ups for individuals nearing retirement age
  • Health check digitisation where possible

How often can I have a free NHS health check?

You can have a free NHS health check every 5 years. You will be sent an invitation for your health check by your GP.

Is an NHS health check effective?

The NHS health check is effective in giving you an overall view of your health and what lifestyle changes you may need to make to improve your health and prevent the occurrence of a serious health condition. NHS health checks are expected to save 650 lives every year, detect up to 20,000 cases of diabetes and kidney disease early and prevent heart attacks and strokes.

CHAPTER FOUR

Health check for heart disease

Heart disease can drastically affect your lifestyle so it is important to take steps to prevent heart conditions. One way you can do this is by understanding your risk of developing heart disease.

This chapter will help you understand heart disease and how a health check can help you prevent heart complications. We can help with:

  • What is the test to check for heart disease?
  • What is coronary heart disease?

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease is a term that can be used to describe a range of serious heart conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), congenital heart defects, stroke and blood vessel diseases. With a health check, you will be able to find out if your heart and blood vessels are in great condition and what factors might affect your heart health.

Coronary heart disease is caused when there is a blockage of fatty substances in the walls of your arteries (atherosclerosis). This constricts and blocks the blood supply to the heart.

What are the causes of heart disease

There are different factors that can affect the function of your heart and contribute to the development of heart disease such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Drug abuse
  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Drug abuse
  • Stress
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Some medications and dietary supplements
  • Valvular heart disease
  • Obesity

What are the risk factors for heart disease?

Various factors can increase your risk of developing a heart condition:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Poor diet
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Gender
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Obesity

What are the symptoms of heart disease?

Heart disease symptoms vary based on the type of heart disease present. However, you should see a doctor immediately if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Chest pain, chest tightness or discomfort
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Changes in your heart rhythm
  • Palpitations

How to check for heart disease?

With a health check, a health professional will be able to check for signs of heart disease and let you know if you may be at risk of developing a heart condition. This is done by carrying out a blood test and checking your blood pressure. You will also be asked a few questions about your lifestyle and your medical and family history which will give you a clearer picture of your heart health.

Other tests that may be run to check for signs of heart disease include:

  • An ECG
  • An echocardiogram
  • A CT scan
  • An MRI scan
  • A coronary angiography
  • A treadmill test

What is the treatment for heart disease?

Some heart disease such as coronary heart disease cannot be cured. However, to reduce the chances of problems arising if you have heart disease you may have to:

  • Make lifestyle changes
  • Use medications
  • Have surgery
  • Undergo an angioplasty

How to prevent heart disease?

You can reduce your risk of heart disease by understanding your risk level and taking steps to lower your risk. This can be done by carrying out a health check. When you get a health check, a nurse or health professional will be able to advise you on lifestyle changes you can make, such as:

  • Changes to your diet
  • Quitting smoking
  • Steps to control your blood cholesterol
  • Getting more physical activity
  • Reducing your weight if necessary
CHAPTER FIVE

Health check for kidney disease

A health check is able to spot the early signs of chronic kidney disease.

Your kidneys are important for removing toxins from your body and you can monitor the health of your kidneys with a health check. We can help with:

  • What is chronic kidney disease?
  • Is kidney disease hereditary?

What is kidney disease?

Kidney disease is a serious condition that can affect your kidney’s ability to remove wastes and toxins from your body. Your kidneys help keep your blood clean and filter excess water from your blood. Your kidneys can also affect your blood pressure, control the acidity of your blood and produce some important hormones.

If your kidneys become compromised, waste products and fluid that would usually be extracted from your body can build up. If kidney damage is left untreated, this can be fatal as your kidneys may eventually stop working.

What are the types of kidney disease?

You can have acute kidney disease or chronic kidney disease.

Acute kidney disease occurs when your kidneys suddenly stop functioning normally. This can also be referred to as acute renal failure or acute kidney injury. When this happens, your kidneys are unable to eliminate waste and excess fluids from your blood.

Chronic kidney disease occurs when your kidneys are unable to function normally for a period longer than 3 months. It is important to get a health check for your kidneys because you may not show symptoms during the early stages of chronic kidneys disease.

Kidney disease symptoms

Symptoms of acute kidney disease can include:

  • Fatigue and slow movements
  • Fluid retention and generalised swelling
  • Hand tremor
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms of chronic kidney disease can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss and poor appetite
  • Water retention causing swollen ankles, feet and hands

What causes kidney disease?

The risk factors for acute kidney disease can include:

  • Direct damage to the kidneys from a traumatic injury
  • Lack of blood flow to the kidneys
  • An obstruction causing urine to be backed up on the kidneys
  • Sepsis
  • Taking drugs and toxins that may damage the kidneys
  • Pregnancy complications such as eclampsia and pre-eclampsia

The risk factors for chronic kidney disease can include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Lupus or other connective tissue disease
  • An enlarged prostate gland in men
  • Kidney stones
  • Repeated urinary infections

Health check for kidney disease

By getting a health check, you can monitor the function of your kidneys and know if they are working properly. With a full body health check, a health care professional will be able to carry out a blood test to check the rate that your kidneys are filtering your blood. A urine test will be able to check for the presence and quantity of albumin, which is a protein that is present in the urine when you have experienced damage to your kidneys.

When you go for a health check every 5 years, you will be able to keep track of your kidney test results and know if your kidney is still filtering your blood properly and if you albumin in your urine goes up or down. With a health check, you will also know if you may be at risk of kidney disease because of your family history. Some kidney disorders have inherited genetic components.

Preventing kidney disease

The best way to prevent kidney disease is by drinking plenty of fluid and staying healthy. After your health check, you may be advised on lifestyle changes to treat or reduce your risk of kidney disease such as:

  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Following a diet that is low in fat and salt
  • Exercising for about 30 minutes a day
  • Quitting tobacco use or smoking
CHAPTER SIX

Health check for diabetes

Diabetes is a long-term condition. You will need you to make changes to your everyday life if you are diagnosed with this. It is important to know if you are at risk of diabetes and you can do this by getting a health check.

This chapter has some helpful information on the types of diabetes and how getting a health check can help you reduce your risk. We can help with:

  • How do you get diabetes?
  • How do you know if you have diabetes?

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that causes blood sugar levels to be too high due to the body’s inability to produce enough insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and turns the sugars and glucose we eat into energy for our bodies. When the production of insulin is compromised, the level of sugar in the blood increases because it is not being converted into energy.

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body has no insulin at all. It is a chronic condition and the pancreas stops producing enough insulin. This type of diabetes is typically seen in childhood or adolescence. However, it can also occur in adults.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to convert the glucose in your blood, causing your blood sugar levels to be too high. It can also occur when the body’s cells do not react to insulin. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in older people and can be linked to obesity. There are some short term and long term complications that can arise from type two diabetes.

Short term complications include hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and long term complications can include kidney disease, diabetic neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy and macrovascular problems.

What are the signs of diabetes?

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Increased thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Unusual bed-wetting in children
  • Irritability
  • Passing large volumes of urine

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes:

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Itching around the genital area or frequent thrush
  • Wounds
  • Blurry vision

What causes diabetes?

Some causes of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Genetics
  • Some viruses
  • Usually unknown

Some causes and risk factors of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Family history of diabetes

Health check for diabetes

Type 2 diabetes could be present in you for years without you realising which is why regular health checks are helpful. A health check will include a blood test (glycated haemoglobin test) which shows your average blood sugar level for the past 2 to 3 months. This can show if you are diabetic or prediabetic.

With a health check, a healthcare professional will also talk to you about your risk for developing diabetes and any lifestyle changes you may have to make.

How to prevent diabetes?

The best way to prevent type 2 diabetes is to first understand if you are at risk of developing diabetes. You can do this by getting a health check. After your health check, you will get personalised advice on lifestyle changes you can make to prevent diabetes if you are at risk. Other ways you can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Limit smoking
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Control your cholesterol levels
  • Managing your weight
CHAPTER SEVEN

Health check for stroke

A stroke is a very serious and life-threatening brain condition. As you get older, you are more susceptible to having a stroke.

It is important to get a health check to ensure you are not at risk of a stroke and your cholesterol levels are low. We can help with:

  • What is a mini-stroke?
  • How to avoid a stroke?

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood flow to a part of the brain is cut off (ischaemic stroke). Bleeding in the brain can also cause a stroke (haemorrhagic stroke). Mini-strokes are caused by a temporary reduction of blood supply to the brain. It is life-threatening and can cause brain cells to become damaged or die. The cells in your brain need oxygen and nutrients from the blood and when the flow is obstructed, this can cause brain cells to die. This damage can have serious effects on how the body functions and can alter the way you think and feel.

What are the signs of a stroke?

The key signs of a stroke include:

  • Droop on one side of someone’s face. This could be that their mouth or eye may have dropped on one side of their face.
  • Inability to lift one arm or leg or both and keep them up due to weakness or numbness.
  • Slurred speech or the inability to talk.
Important

If you notice any of these symptoms of a stroke, it is important you call the emergency services immediately (dial 999).

What causes a stroke?

A stroke has two main causes:

  • It can be caused by a blood clot stopping the blood flow to the brain (ischaemic). If the artery is narrowed, the blood clot completely cuts off the blood supply.
  • It can be caused by a ruptured blood vessel causing a brain bleed. This can damage surrounding brain cells.

What are the risk factors of stroke

You may be at risk of having a stroke if:

  • You are above the age of 55
  • If you have a family history of stroke
  • If you have diabetes or high blood pressure
  • If you have previously had a stroke, a mini stroke or heart attack
  • If you have high cholesterol levels

What lifestyle factors increase your risk of stroke?

Factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High fat and salt diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Heavy drinking
  • Obesity

How to prevent a stroke?

As you get older, your risk of having a stroke can increase as arteries become harder and narrower and this makes them more susceptible to getting blocked. There may also be lifestyle factors that can enhance your risk of having a stroke. To prevent a stroke, you should get a health check to ensure you are not at risk of having a stroke.

Health check for stroke

Health checks are made to monitor your health as you get older to reduce your risk of serious conditions such as a stroke. Medicspot’s health check will give you a clearer picture of your health, offer blood tests such as cholesterol levels and to offer personalised advice on changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle in order to avoid conditions such as a stroke.

CHAPTER EIGHT

After your health check

After you’ve had your health check, your doctor will go over your results with you. To maintain or improve your health, you may want to track your health progress and make changes to your lifestyle. We can help with:

  • How can I improve my health naturally?
  • How can I improve the health of my heart?

Health apps and trackers

ACR Digital Urinalysis

This is a free NHS app. The ACR Digital Urinalysis app enables you to test the concentrations of albumin (a protein in the blood) and creatinine (a waste product) in a sample of your pee. It also measures the ratio of albumin to creatinine (ACR). ACR is a way of checking if the kidneys are filtering properly, and is often used to monitor a number of medical conditions, including diabetes. The app guides you step-by-step through the testing process. To do the test, you'll need the testing kit that has been designed to use with the app. You will also need to pre-register – your healthcare provider can send you a unique link, which you can use to register. Learn more here.

Changing Health

This is a free NHS app that requires an NHS GP referral. Changing Health is a lifestyle change app for people with type 2 diabetes. Track your weight, activity and diet while learning new ways to improve your health, feel great, look better and have more energy - all with the support of your own personal coach. Learn more here.

SleepCycle

The SleepCycle app tracks your quality of sleep and your sleeping heart rate. Sleep plays an important role in maintaining good health as it can affect your body’s ability to repair heart and blood vessels, balance your hormones, and maintain your blood sugar levels (among many other issues). It also wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase in the morning, making you feel well-rested and ready to tackle the day. Learn more here.

Fitplan

Fitplan app lets your workout with a personal trainer. The app offers step-by-step training from professional trainers and athletes. You can also choose your plan based on goals, like weight loss, or by trainer. Learn more here.

Happify

The Happify app helps users overcome stress and negative thoughts in order to build better emotional health and resilience. Stress has been linked to some of the leading causes of death. This app uses CBT, mindfulness and other psychological techniques. Happify provides simple and effective solutions for your health and wellbeing. Learn more here.

Health services

ChatHealth is a free NHS app. It is only available in some areas. This is designed for young people. It's a safe and easy way to speak to a qualified health professional. Just send a message, you don’t have to give your name. You’ll get confidential advice from trained health staff in your area. Learn more here.

Be Mindful is an NHS approved app. Be Mindful is an online course for reducing stress, depression and anxiety. It guides you through the elements of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). Be Mindful consists of video, meditation audio and interactive exercises, as well as mindfulness assignments to carry out in daily life. You can complete the course in as little as four weeks, but you can take longer if you prefer – there is no time limit for completion. Learn more here.

How to improve your health naturally

Put away the salt

Excess salt can lead to high blood pressure. Having a saltshaker on the dining table makes it easy to consume more salt than you need. Make sure to put the salt shaker away when having meals.

Go to bed earlier A lack of sleep can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke regardless of your age, weight or exercise habits. Try going to bed 15 minutes earlier every night to help you reset your sleep pattern.

Make dietary substitutions

Simple dietary substitutions can greatly improve your health. You can try swapping white bread for whole grain bread. You can also use skinless chicken and replace sugary drinks with water and fruits.

Make exercise a part of your daily routine You can use a health app to help you stay on top of your daily exercise such as the Apple health app and MyFitnessPal. You should aim to get regular daily exercise.

Take the stairs Try incorporating more exercise into your life by walking whenever you can. Instead of taking the lift or escalator, try walking instead. This will get your blood pumping, exercise your lungs and work the muscles in your lower body. You can aim to take 10,000 steps a day.

CHAPTER NINE

Private health check

Get a clearer picture of your health. With a Medicspot private health check, you can assess your risk of developing a serious health condition.

How it works

Book your Medicspot private health check today. A nurse will then come to take your samples from the comfort of your home. Samples are sent to one of our world-class labs which can be tested for a range of health conditions. You can receive your results in a matter of days.

Your test results will be reviewed by a Medicspot private doctor at no additional cost. If you require treatment, you can book an appointment with one of our doctors at one of our clinics.

CHAPTER TEN

About the authors

Written by Dr Abby Hyams and Dr Hasan Abu-Baker. Last reviewed on 18/05/2020. Next review date 18/05/2023.

Dr Abby Hyams

Dr Abby Hyams grew up in Manchester and did her medical training in Bristol. She has been a GP for over ten years, many of them as a partner in an NHS practice in Hemel Hempstead. Dr Hyams loves being a GP because of the wide spectrum of people she encounters every day.

Dr Hasan Abu-Baker

Dr Abu-Baker is a portfolio based GP based in Northwest London and completed his GP training in Kent. He has experience in urgent care and walk in centres and has a strong interest in digital health and its potential in improving efficiency and patient care.

Disclaimer

This article is for general information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Medic Spot Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In the event of an emergency, please call 999 for immediate assistance.