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Free NHS health checks

The NHS Health Check is a free health check for those in England aged 40 to 74 years.

The programme sets out to detect early signs of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) such as stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia. It also aims to help prevent the development of these diseases and allow for early diagnosis and treatment. 

The risk of developing CVDs increases with age and can be influenced by lifestyle behaviours including drinking alcohol, smoking, unhealthy diet and being inactive. 

The NHS Health Check can be offered by GP’s or by community providers.

Who can get an NHS Health Check 

To be eligible for a Health Check in West Northamptonshire, you must: 

  • be aged between 40 and 74 years 
  • be registered with a GP in Northamptonshire 
  • not have had a Health Check in the last 5 years 
  • not be on prescribed statins to lower cholesterol 
  • not have had a 20% or higher risk for developing CVD over the next 10 years indicated at your previous NHS Health Check 
  • not have any of the following pre-existing conditions: 
    • heart disease
    • chronic kidney disease
    • diabetes
    • high blood pressure (hypertension)
    • atrial fibrillation
    • transient ischaemic attack
    • inherited high cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolemia)
    • heart failure
    • peripheral arterial disease
    • stroke

If you meet the above criteria, you should receive an invite from your GP. This may be in the form of a letter, phone call or text message to attend an appointment.  

If you think your appointment may be overdue, you can contact your GP for further information. Alternatively, if you are eligible, there may be Health Check opportunities within your community that you can look to attend.

What to expect at your Health Check appointment

A Health Check appointment takes around 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

During this time, you will be asked some questions, have measurements taken and a pin prick blood test sample taken and recorded. You will be given advice on how to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.  

You will be asked some questions, including about: 

  • your personal information: age, sex and ethnicity 
  • whether a close relative has been diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease 
  • your smoking status 
  • how much alcohol you consume  
  • your physical activity levels 

You will then have your:

  • height and weight measured
  • blood pressure taken
  • pulse checked

You may have a blood sample taken to check your blood sugar and/or cholesterol levels.

At the end of the appointment, you should be: 

  • told your results - this will include your CVD risk score, which estimates how likely it is that you will develop a cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years 
  • provided personal advice on lifestyle changes that can help prevent and reduce the risk of developing a CVD - this may include a conversation around physical activity levels, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, weight management or stopping smoking
  • told about the signs and symptoms of dementia if you are over the age of 65 years 
  • referred to local services to support lifestyle change, if you request this  
  • referred to the GP for follow up if any of your results are high 
  • informed that your Health Check records will be stored with your GP 

Steps to take to reduce the development of a cardiovascular disease  

Several things can be done to reduce the risk of developing CVD complications (such as diabetes, stroke, heart failure, kidney failure). These changes can be small and can be made straight away.  

Some of the steps that you can take to reduce your risk include: 

Useful resources 

Check your overall health with the How Are You? quiz.

You can find out more about your heart health with this heart age calculator.

You can also calculate your body mass index.

Further information 

NHS Health Check

NHS England: Annual Health Checks 

Last updated 19 December 2023