NHS Health Check'My blood pressure was too high'
Jane Hudson, aged 70 at the time of her NHS Health Check, is from Emley, near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. She lives with her husband and has one son and two daughters.
Last year, Jane received a letter from her GP surgery inviting her to have an NHS Health Check and enclosing a leaflet about it. "Everything was properly explained in both the letter and the leaflet," says Jane, who had no existing concerns about her health at the time, other than knowing that her cholesterol was on the high side.
The test appointment was for half an hour with a healthcare assistant. "I was asked not to eat or drink anything but water for 12 hours beforehand," says Jane. She was also asked to bring a urine sample.
The health assistant measured Jane, performed a blood test, tested the urine she'd provided and took her blood pressure. Jane was also asked about any family history of heart problems, stroke, type 2 diabetes or dementia, and how much alcohol she drank.
The health assistant also gave Jane a British Heart Foundation booklet called Keep your heart healthy.
Shock blood pressure result
"The nurse almost fell off her chair when she saw the blood pressure reading!," says Jane, whose reading was done twice to make sure. "So I was told I'd need a 24-hour monitor, which I had three weeks later. That proved there was a problem and I was told to make an appointment to see the doctor."
Jane says she found it shocking to hear that her blood pressure was so high, because she felt that she was leading a healthy lifestyle. She was also unhappy to hear that she would need to take blood pressure medicines, and vowed to make further lifestyle changes instead.
"I gave up added salt, which I did eat a lot of before. I virtually cut out alcohol, and altered my diet to cut out red meat and eat more fish – we always ate fish once or twice a week anyway. And I walk more than two miles each day, briskly, with the dog.
"After almost a year my weight has dropped from 71kg to 55kg, and I've never felt fitter and better. My height is 172cm and the doctor has told me not to lose any more weight as my BMI is 19."
After Jane's NHS Health Check
Following her NHS Health Check, Jane has had several follow-up blood tests, all of which were clear. However, her blood pressure has remained high, so after consulting her doctor Jane started to take an ACE inhibitor, a type of blood pressure medicine.
Jane initially experienced a side effect of a bad cough, so her doctor then changed her medication and put her on a lower dose. Her blood pressure has since gone down to a reading of 129/75.
Jane has since been made aware that she has a genetic predisposition to diabetes and she now has pre-diabetes. This means that her blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough to cause diabetes yet. "The doctor said that it was only the lifestyle changes I'd made that had stopped me from becoming diabetic up until now, and that I may have to take diabetes medication in the future.
"I know my grandmother had type 2 diabetes and possibly my mother, too. To be forewarned is to be forearmed."
Jane has encouraged her friends to go for an NHS Health Check. "I'm extremely grateful to have been made aware of my high blood pressure, which is easily treated.
"I've never been a pill popper and would always prefer to sort problems out where possible by myself, by doing whatever was necessary. So I would say that the health check was a wake-up call, even if I didn't like what I heard.
"Many people would pay large sums of money to have the test that I had for free."
Page last reviewed: 26/11/2019
Next review due: 26/11/2022