Some patients, such as those with high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease etc, are usually advised to have regular check ups with their doctor / nurse for blood pressure, weight and blood tests. Such patients are often sent automatic reminders regarding these tests.
Those patients who are fit and well without any pre-existing conditions sometimes ask how often they should have certain tests / check ups to keep them healthy. There is not always a single answer which applies to every individual and if you have specific questions or concerns then speak to a doctor or nurse about them. The NHS Choices
website also contains some useful information, which may help.
The following information is intended as a guide to give you some idea of what would be sensible to consider undertaking, in order to identify any potential health problems.
Healthy patients over the age of 40 should get their blood pressure checked at least every 5 yrs.
Reasons to check blood pressure more regularly (risk factors for high blood pressure) include : increasing age, family history of high blood pressure, being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, stress, excess alcohol intake.
Cholesterol (one of the fats in the bloodstream) is measured by having a blood test. Cholesterol contributes to the overall risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart attacks and strokes). Cholesterol is derived from the food we eat, but is also produced naturally by our liver.
In healthy adults, it is sensible to check cholesterol over the age of 40, as part of a cardiovascular risk assessment. However, it is not so clear how beneficial it is to repeat cholesterol levels on a regular basis. Certainly, cardiovascular risk increases as we age, so it would be best to discuss with your doctor whether / when it should be rechecked.
Patients who have a family history of raised cholesterol levels or early onset heart disease / strokes may wish to check their cholesterol level even before the age of 40.
Glucose (sugar) level
Glucose is measured by having a blood test and is most commonly done by having a fasting test (ie only water can be consumed for 10 hours prior to the blood test). Raised glucose levels are suggestive of diabetes or a risk of developing diabetes.
In healthy patients, fasting glucose can be checked over the age of 40 as part of their cardiovascular risk assessment. Similarly to cholesterol, there is no clear guidance on having regular fasting glucose tests, so discuss with your doctor whether / when it should be repeated.
Patients who are at increased risk of diabetes (being overweight, family history of diabetes) may need to have more regular checks.
Symptoms suggestive of the onset of diabetes (increased thirst, increased urine output, lethargy, weight loss) may indicate a need to have a fasting glucose test. Please discuss with your doctor.
Prostate blood test (PSA)
The PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test is used to help identify those patients who may have prostate cancer. However, as it not a perfect test (sometimes incorrectly suggests prostate cancer; can even fail to suggest prostate cancer when present) it is not automatically offered to all men as part of a screening programme.
For healthy men with no symptoms, you can find information here
about the pro's and con's of having a PSA test. Speak to your doctor if you are interested in having the test.
For men with symptoms which may be related to a prostate problem (increased frequency of urination, a feeling of urgently needing to urinate, getting up to pass urine at night) it would be sensible to speak to your doctor before having a PSA test done.
Those men with a family history of prostate cancer can also speak to a doctor to discuss their own risk and whether a PSA test is right for them.
If in doubt - ask your doctor !