We’ve been living in a global pandemic for a year now. In that time, we’ve probably not been visiting the doctor half as much as we used to. In fact, it looks as though when this pandemic began, there was a huge ratio of people in the UK not going to their GP because they didn’t want to put pressure on the NHS. So why do regular blood tests matter so much?
Other than being able to detect what might be going wrong in the body, prevention is also key to good health. Choosing healthier lifestyle habits can lead to healthier and happier lives. This however can only be done through regular health checks and detecting potential health risks early on. It allows for better support, treatment and ultimately, better health outcomes.
What are the biggest health risks in the UK?
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is one of the leading causes of death and most common causes of premature death (under 75s) in the UK. Strokes are the fifth main cause of death and the biggest cause of severe disability. Around 50% of heart attacks and strokes are associated with high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is the leading modifiable risk factor for heart disease. It is estimated that 15 million adults have high blood pressure in the UK. On top of that, around half of them are living with undiagnosed or uncontrolled high blood pressure and are not receiving effective treatment. This is where having regular health checks and blood tests come in.
Another big variable is how much exercise we get on a daily basis. Currently for many people it isn’t a lot, and for some, it’s none at all. Restrictions on where we can go and how often we can go has demotivated a lot of people to do any exercise at all.
64% of the UK population have a high body mass index (BMI) defined as overweight, and approximately 17% of heart disease deaths are associated with a high BMI. More than 37% of adults are not achieving the minimum national recommendations for weekly exercise, and physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 35%.
These are health risks that can be avoided with regular health checks such as monitoring your blood pressure and checking cholesterol levels. Left unregulated can lead to high health risks that are irreversible.
Those are not the only health risks to bear in mind however. Every two minutes in the UK someone is diagnosed with cancer and this is only projected to rise. Almost half of cancers are diagnosed at a late stage, yet 79% of lung cancer deaths are preventable and 72% of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking. Five-year survival rate for bowel cancer is nine times greater when diagnosed in the early stages compared to the later stages. Yet, over half of bowel cancer cases are preventable through changes in dietary and lifestyle factors.
Another health risk that is vital to diagnose early is diabetes. Cases of diabetes in the UK have more than doubled in the last two decades. Around 4.7 million people have it (one in fifteen people) with 90% having type 2. Around 1 million people in the UK are living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.
Health complications can begin five or six years before people realise they have it, and one in three people will have complications because of late diagnosis, such as heart disease, kidney disease, amputations and sight loss.
Three in five cases of type 2 diabetes are preventable and obesity increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 80 - 85%. People with diabetes are two times more likely to experience depression, often due to the demands of their condition. A healthy diet and good levels of physical activity can greatly reduce type 2 diabetes risk.
These statistics highlight that the majority of these cases are treatable by screening early, and preventable by changes in diet and lifestyle factors. In order to do this though, they need to receive timely referrals from the appropriate healthcare professionals.
Regular health checks are key for prevention. After all, a healthy workforce shows an increased level of engagement, lower absenteeism and higher job satisfaction. Aside from wanting your staff to be healthy and happy, remember that when your people come to work happy, they are more present, better at problem solving, and harder working.
To book a free consultation with LiveSmart and find out more about what health checks we can provide for your staff, please contact us.