5 Important Health Checks
As you age, it is important to ensure that your body’s most important systems are running smoothly.
Take control of your health and begin to monitor any changes in your body with these five important health checks.
1. Blood Pressure
According to Blood Pressure UK, approximately 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure and as many as 7 million people are living with undiagnosed high blood pressure, without knowing they are at risk.
A blood pressure test will measure the pressure of blood in your arteries, the vessels that transport blood from your heart to your brain and the rest of your body. The pressure of your blood needs to be a certain level, and high blood pressure aka, hypertension, means that your blood is at a higher level that the recommended level.
You can not usually feel if you have high blood pressure, but over time if untreated, it will have serious consequences for your heart and you run the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
In contrast, low blood pressure, or hypotension, is where your blood pressure is abnormally low. If your blood pressure drops too low you can restrict the amount of blood flowing to your brain and vital organs. Symptoms can include unsteadiness, dizziness or fainting.
A simple trip to the doctors every year will ensure you keep your blood pressure in check.
2. Bowel Cancer Screening
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, and the majority of people diagnosed with it are over the age of 60.
The symptoms of bowel cancer can often be very subtle or in some cases non-existent; screenings are essential in order to detect potential issues. If bowel cancer is caught early, it is much easier to treat.
The Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) detects tiny amounts of blood which you cannot normally see in your bowel motions. In Northern Ireland, if you are aged between 60 and 74, you will be invited to take part in bowel cancer screening every two years.
Please bear in mind that this test can not diagnose bowel cancer but, if it shows blood in your poo, you will be invited to your local screening centre to discuss additional tests such as a colonoscopy.
3. Eye Test
Anyone over the age of 60 is entitled a free NHS eye test every two years
An eye test carried out by your optometrist not only shows whether or not you need glasses, it can detect early signs of conditions you may not be aware of, such as glaucoma.
4. Bone Density Scan
A bone density scan uses X-rays to measure how many grams of calcium other other bone minerals are inside a segment of your bone.
The DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan can help diagnose if you are at risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition that causes the bones to weaken and become more likely to break.
Most commonly tested in the spine, hip and forearm, the DEXA scan is quick and painless, and much more effective that a normal X-ray.
5. Skin Check
With 13,000 new cases each year, melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK. It is important to keep an eye any moles on your body to help you spot the early signs of skin cancer. Be vigilant, if you notice any changes in size or colour of a mole, contact your doctor who may refer you on for further testing or to have the mole removed.