The check will take around 20 to 30 minutes. It will be carried out by a healthcare assistant or a nurse
- Your height and weight will be recorded in order to calculate your Body Mass Index
- Your age, sex and ethnicity will be recorded
- Your blood pressure (and pulse) will be taken
- A blood test will check your cholesterol level and blood sugar level and, depending on your blood pressure and BMI, your kidney function
- You will be asked some simple questions about your lifestyle including whether or not you smoke, how much alcohol you drink and how much exercise you get.
Collectively these checks that can indicate whether you have a high cardiovascular risk.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Your body mass index (BMI) is an inexpensive and easy screening method that uses your height and weight to calculate whether patients have a healthy body weight. Although useful, it is only a guide.
Age, sex and ethnicity
These are recorded as they can all be factors in your cardiovascular risk. For example, the chance of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, diabetes or dementia all increase with age. Certain ethnic groups can have a greater risk of developing conditions such as Diabetes
Your blood pressure will be taken using a cuff fitted over your upper arm – find out what happens during a blood pressure test.
There are two measurements used to assess blood pressure:
Systolic pressure is the pressure exerted when your heart pumps, forcing blood to move through your arteries
Diastolic pressure is the pressure exerted when your heart is at rest, between beats
The result is usually described as, for example, ‘140 over 90’, meaning a systolic pressure of 140mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 90mmHg (often written as ‘140/90mmHg’).
Your pulse should be taken too.
Your healthcare professional will take a blood sample from a blood vessel in your arm – find out what happens in a blood test. This will help us test for:
Cholesterol – this is a fat that is carried around your body in the blood by proteins, when the two combine they’re called lipoproteins. The two main types of lipoprotein are:
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – referred to as the “good cholesterol” and higher levels are better for your body to work properly
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – referred to as the “bad cholesterol” and too much of it can build up in the artery walls where they become blocked, increasing your risk of a stroke or heart disease
Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L. Your NHS Health Check will measure your total cholesterol (HDL plus LDL) and your cholesterol ratio (total cholesterol divided by your HDL level).
HbA1c – This is a blood test which measures your blood sugar levels and can indicate whether you have diabetes. Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
GFR – depending on your blood pressure and your BMI we may also do a blood test to check your kidney function.
Questions about how much alcohol you drink
Your healthcare professional will ask you a series of questions (scored from 0 to 4 for each one, to gather information about your use of alcoholic drinks during the past 12 months, including the number of units of alcohol you consume on average. These questions collectively form part of the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test AUDIT. On completion of this test you will be given an AUDIT score which is designed to assess whether you are drinking an amount of alcohol that’s likely to be harming your health. The healthcare professional will talk to you about risk factors, if any, based on your score.
Please endeavour to be honest when answering these questions so that we can make an accurate assessment of your risk. The healthcare professional is simply collating information and will not be judging you.
Questions about exercise
Your healthcare professional will ask you a series of questions about your physical activity level. Collectively these questions make up the General Practice Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPPAQ). On completion of the questionnaire you will be given a rating of active, moderately active/inactive or inactive.
Please answer these questions honestly for your own benefit. The healthcare professional will not be judging you.
Questions about your smoking status
Your healthcare professional will ask you whether you smoke, used to smoke or live with others who smoke. They will also ask how much you smoke, if you do. These questions are important as they help us to assess your cardiovascular risk.