We often think about going to our GP when we have an illness.
However, much of a GP's work is about keeping you well and preventing you from becoming ill.
BBC Breakfast GP Dr Rachel Ward has shared with us the reasons why you should get checked out more often:
From age 40 to 74, you should make an appointment with your GP every five years for an NHS health check. At this check, we take blood to test your blood sugar and cholesterol level, plus we check your blood pressure, weight, and discuss lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol intake. Many conditions such as high blood pressure and early diabetes can have no symptoms so this is a way of detecting these conditions early and treating them before they cause long-term damage.
If you have an underlying chronic health condition - heart disease, asthma, COPD, diabetes, kidney disease, dementia, for example, you need annual monitoring of your condition and your medication. You will, therefore, be invited for an annual check at your GP. Depending on the condition, the appointment will involve different checks such as a blood, blood pressure, and urine test.
Certain medication requires more regular monitoring and your GP will work alongside your specialist to do this. For example, if you take medication for Rheumatoid arthritis, like methotrexate, your specialist will request that your doctor monitors regular blood tests and they will review you every six to 12 months. It is very important that you attend your regular blood tests so your GP can continue to prescribe your medication safely.
The NHS runs screening programmes for bowel, breast, and cervical cancer. The cervical screening programme is mainly carried out at GP practices. This test is offered to all women age 25-64. It is every three years for age 25-49, then every five years from age 50. The purpose of all cancer screening is to detect precancerous change or early cancers so they can be treated early and lead to better outcomes. Some women get anxious about having a smear test as it is an intimate examination. We would encourage anyone worried to contact us so we can talk through the procedure and support you to take the test.