What’s top of your health fix-it list for the new year?

With the recent, shocking news that less than half of over-40s have taken up the opportunity for a free NHS Health Check, 2019 could be the year for Brits to stop putting their own wellbeing on the backburner and start diarising their personal “med-min”.

NHS England warned that, “The NHS health check looks at the top causes of premature death and ill health but more importantly supports people to take action of reducing their risk of preventable conditions such as dementia and heart disease…the 20-minute painless assessment, which screens for heart problems, kidney disease and Type 2 diabetes, has been taken by a minority of the 15 million eligible people over the past five years.”

“The start of a new year is exactly the right time to commit to taking a simple, free and potentially life-saving step towards a healthier life.”

So, with these wise words in mind, why not make it your resolution to take control of your health this new year and ensure you take positive action to tackle all those “nagging” issues…

Schedule in your screenings
Remembering to book appointments for screenings and check-ups can get confusing, especially with variable age categories and eligibility for different tests. If you can’t remember when you last went for a medical check-up, there are now a range of Apps and specialist medical health concierge services that can help. As a starting point, you can also call your GP surgery and check you’re up to date with routine checks, vaccinations and repeat prescriptions or alternatively, some Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) offer a text reminder service for national screening programmes in your area.

Don’t overlook your eye health
Eye examinations are important for people of all ages – pre-schoolers to pensioners! As well as checking for a need for glasses, routine tests can also pick up minor eye conditions (MECs) such as dry eye or infections. Yet, what few people know, is that a simple eye test can unearth a number of serious health conditions, such as Diabetes, High blood pressure, autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and in rare cases, conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis or brain tumours.

Check with your local high street optician or here to find out if you’re entitled to a free NHS sight test.

It’s good to talk about SUI…
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) affects a third of women at some point in their life – and it’s an issue that can seriously impact a woman’s quality of life.

Yet a recent survey has revealed that 9 out of 10 women living with SUI are likely to simply “put up with” the condition, rather than seek treatment and advice. Well over a third (39%) of the women questioned said they had waited up to 6 months before eventually seeking treatment with a staggering 12% leaving it for up to 5 years or more.

If you’re one of the many women who has avoided confronting the issue, please don’t be afraid to seek professional advice from your GP (or instead, reluctantly resolving to spend another year wearing pads). There are a range of treatments available that can stop ‘leakage’ altogether.

Bulking agents may be a slightly lesser known method of treatment for SUI but it is less invasive than other surgical approaches as it involves no cutting of the patient’s skin or tissue. It’s a safe and effective method that has been used by the NHS for over 10 years.

Bulkamid is an example of a bulking agent and has an 80% success rate when used as a first line treatment. The water-based gel helps the bladder neck to close when needed to help prevent bladder leaks – and is carried out as day surgery, often just under a local anaesthetic (allowing ladies to return to normal activities within 24 hours!)

So, don’t delay speaking to your GP. Enjoy a “Dry January” and the rest of the year (and beyond…)
For more information, please visit: www.bulkamid.com

Understanding your mental health
It is estimated that every week, one in six adults experiences a common mental health problem, such as anxiety, depression or OCD. The stigmas associated with mental health mean that people often don’t feel as if they can talk about it but opening up to friends, family of colleagues and finding a doctor or specialist you trust to discuss your condition will help you take the first steps to getting the care you need and beginning to feel as though you’re regaining control of your mental health.
For further advice and signposting to support organisations, visit: www.mind.org.uk

Making prevention a priority…
A cervical screening test (often known as a smear test) is a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix. Since the screening programme was introduced in the 1980s, the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased by about 7% each year. All women who are registered with a GP are invited for cervical screening: aged 25 to 49 – every 3 years; aged 50 to 64 – every 5 years
Worryingly, a recent survey by the charity, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, highlighted that “embarrassment makes women avoid smear tests.” It followed a survey of more than 2,000 women in the UK, half of whom either delayed or didn’t attend screening.

The start of new year is a perfect opportunity to check if you’re due to be checked! You should receive a reminder from your local NHS services – so if you know that letter has been languishing in your in-tray, there’s no time like the present to book in an appointment with the practice nurse at your GP surgery.

More information about the importance of cervical screening, as well a range of useful information, can be found here.