Detecting problems before they have a chance to become serious is one of the main reasons for having a health care check-up — but should you go public or private?
We don’t always look after ourselves the way we should, and even those among us who live active and healthy lives — eating well and exercising regularly — may not have an annual health check-up or screening. It’s often true that we look after our cars and other possessions better than we do our bodies, but then it’s the law to get an MOT for your vehicle if it’s over a certain age, and you can be hit with a hefty fine for driving without one.
You may be fit and healthy today, but there’s no telling what’s going on inside your body and the 37 trillion or so cells that make up you. They’re dividing all the time and new ones appear — a magical dance of replication that keeps the biological processes going but gets more problematic over time.
The constant renewal that continually copies your genetic information can and does lead to errors that may give rise to mutations that can be harmful and even deadly, such as the development of various cancers. These errors in mitosis, or cell division, can be caught and eliminated by the immune system. But sometimes, it’s not robust enough to deal with developing tumours and other problems, and disease starts to take hold in the body.
This everyday scenario, and many more involving the multitude of bodily functions and processes, mean it’s almost impossible to know that something has gone wrong and you’re at risk of developing a condition or disease unless you’re regularly screened. The frequency for which it’s advised to get a check-up depends on your age, and you may be entitled to one on the NHS, or you can choose to have a private health care check-up.
What does a check-up involve and look for?
The point of having a health care check-up is to gauge how well your body is functioning and to identify any issues before they have a chance to become something much bigger. By then, they could be much more difficult and expensive to treat. So if you opt to have a check-up with private doctors in London or elsewhere, they will start by asking you some questions to get a picture of your lifestyle and medical history.
They will typically ask about past diseases and conditions and any treatment you underwent, your diet, level of physical activity and whether you smoke and drink alcohol. This information will form a baseline from which to proceed with your medical check-up. Your weight and height will be measured and you’ll have your blood pressure taken — normal blood pressure is less than 120 over 80. Then it will be time to test your blood.
Blood tests are an important marker of your health as they can reveal so much — especially about any problems that may be occurring. A basic blood test will check for:
- Your complete blood count. This will look for any abnormalities in the blood, as well as the presence of infection and anaemia — a condition where there is an insufficient amount of red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. It will also measure the number of white blood cells in the sample; these are the fundamentals of your immune system. The amount of plasma, or fluid, in your blood will be measured compared to the number of red blood cells, and the test will also determine the level of platelets, which are responsible for clotting.
- A lipid profile. Also known as a cholesterol test, this examines the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the sample. These are fatty substances that, if too high, might put you at risk of heart disease or a heart attack. No real symptoms manifest if they are above normal — until it’s too late. So by finding out now, with a blood test, you can take corrective action, such as by improving your diet and help to ward off problems.
- Hormone levels. Depending on your gender and age, your private doctors in London — if, for example, you choose to have your health care check-up at our world-class private GP clinic — might also look at the hormone levels in your blood. Middle-aged men experiencing fatigue and erectile dysfunction, for instance, will have their testosterone level checked, and women around the same age might be checked for how much oestrogen is in their blood to see if they’re approaching the menopause.
If any of these levels are not within the normal range, it could indicate a problem and further investigation, including using scans, may be required.
But a health care check-up, whether at a private hospital or not, doesn’t just look at your blood. A comprehensive evaluation of the many aspects of your health will also examine your eyes and see if you need any corrective measures, like glasses, and your hearing — something many people often overlook when thinking about their health. A dermatologist may be called in to check the condition of your skin, to look for any suspicious marks like moles that could be problematic.
How often should you get a health care check-up?
It’s not unusual for some people to have an annual health check-up at an NHS hospital or their private doctors in London, but many others put it off and don’t get around to it, leaving problems to develop that could end up serious.
You can have a check-up any time you want, but it’s recommended men and women over 50 have one annually, including screenings for colon and breast cancer. A yearly check-up is also advisable for those in the 30-40 age range, as issues relating to diabetes and blood pressure can arise around those ages due to diet and lifestyle. For those under 30, every couple of years should suffice to have everything checked out by your doctor.
So what are the benefits of a private health care check-up?
If you opt for a private health care check-up, you immediately get a number of advantages that are mostly not available elsewhere. You might not even be able to get a check-up on the NHS, and if you are, it might not be annually. When you make an appointment at a private hospital to have one, you’ll find there will be no long waiting lists. You’ll be seen shortly afterwards — sometimes on the same day.
You’ll benefit from the best in medical attention and care, with the latest equipment and techniques because private hospitals are not usually under financial strain the way public health systems often are. They also attract the top doctors and consultants and can afford to invest heavily in what they need.
You’ll also have the luxury of time and being able to have detailed discussions with your doctors and nurses because they won’t be rushing to get you out and move on to the next patient. At a private hospital, everyone is focused on each and every patient and giving them all the time they need. And instead of an off-putting, overly clinical hospital setting, you’ll discover that the place where you have your private health care check-up is luxurious and comfortable, helping you to relax as you go through your checks and tests to make sure everything is fine and you’re good to go.
If you would like to have a private health care check-up with our leading doctors in London, please call 020 7806 4000 or fill in our online form and we will contact you with details of your appointment.