Why it is vital men get regular health MOTs once they hit 40

Matt Bunn undergoes his health check

Matt Bunn undergoes his health check

More men aged over 40 should be getting their health checked, doctors in Suffolk said last week.

Free NHS health checks for men

Free NHS health checks for men

Taking that advice, our health reporter Matt Bunn received his first health MoT, and hears how it can be a lifesaver for many.

He can be a real pain sometimes, but it turns out having a dog has changed my health for the better.

That was just one of the discoveries I made as I embarked on my first ever health MoT, which determined I currently have a minimal risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Quitting smoking was also a big plus in addition to the twice daily walks I have now set out on – the latter of which can add five years to your life, according to the British Heart Foundation.

Free NHS health checks for men

Free NHS health checks for men

Health bosses in Suffolk recently launched the latest health checks initiative, which involves workers testing a variety of factors including your body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol levels on a specially designed bus.

It is for people between the ages of 40 and 74, but officials are particularly keen to see men turn up to get checked, in response to figures which show one in five men die before they reach 65.

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During my own check, workers in the bus explained that while they are checking blood pressure, cholesterol, waist size and performing other tests, they are able to tell a lot about a person.

For example, your waist size can relate to your chance of developing diabetes – and if you are in the “red zone” the workers will suggest you take action straight away – whether that is through diet or making an appointment with your GP.

Free NHS health checks for men

Free NHS health checks for men

Fortunately my age and lifestyle, as well as my results, meant I was given the thumbs up – something which meant I could breathe a sigh of relief as I left.

“It is really worthwhile to come and have a health check,” said Sally French, lead for outreach with the cardiovascular programme at Anglia Community Enterprise, which runs the bus. “It is always better to know these things because they are really preventable diseases – they can be treatable before they do damage.”

Health check worker Peter Hurstell took all my measurements and readings in a session which lasts about 20 minutes.

He explained that it was not just your medical readings that are looked in to – there are also questions about your alcohol intake, exercise and other lifestyle queries.

Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for health, recently had his own health MoT – and discovered that his health, and cholesterol had improved.

He is urging people to get checked while the initiative is running.

Mr Goldson said: “We have to start taking responsibility for our own health. We have to accept we are a mass of chemicals and these can go wrong.”

I found it was somehow easier to speak to my health check worker than others about anything and everything to do with my health and lifestyle.

And just being in the bus for 30 minutes proved to be a good idea.

Not only did I have a big sense of relief that everything was OK, but I was also given good tips and advice on how to keep on top of my health – everything from not taking in too many fatty foods to the benefits of walking 20 minutes a day.

For others there are plenty of leaflets on health issues relating to a range of conditions, from cardiovascular to dementia.

The health check bus will be at the Morrisons store in Aldham Mill Hill, Hadleigh, between 10am-4pm until Sunday.

There is no quota on how often you can see your GP, says leading doctor

Health bosses last week called on more men to contact their GP if they believe something is wrong.

In addition to one in five men dying before the age of 65, figures have also shown that more than 100,000 are dying prematurely.

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket and chairman of the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There’s no quota on how often you can see your GP and most often we can put your mind at rest.

“I can’t tell you the number of men and women that I treat who have a health concern, are clearly anxious about it and then breathe an audible sigh of relief when I diagnose the problem.

“Generally whatever it is can be treated simply and effectively. But, in every case, the sooner I see someone, the easier it is to treat a condition. That’s why I always say, don’t put things off.

“Positive peace of mind is infinitely better than the niggling doubt that accompanies the feeling that something is not quite right.

“Just talking to a friend or loved one is a good first step – they can either put you at ease or suggest whether you might need to see a health professional.”

Richard Crick, healthy lifestyle services manager at Live Well Suffolk, added: “For men, the risk of developing conditions such as cancer and heart disease increases with age which is why it is vital that they have regular health checks.

“It is the equivalent to putting your car through its MoT – you make sure it has its health checked on a regular basis and you should do the same.”

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