Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and while he was talking about fire prevention, it also applies perfectly to your health. Health assessments are a crucial part of maintaining your overall health at any age, but even more so as we start getting older.
You may have noticed that as you age your routine physical health assessments include more conversations about an increased number of tests than they did ten or twenty years ago. Unfortunately, developing various illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and various forms of cancer increases with age.
However, being in your 50s does not mean you are past your prime – keep up to date with your health and you will be able to enjoy a long life with your loved ones.
There are a few diseases and illnesses that you should focus on that will be most beneficial and ensure you are at the peak of your health. These include screenings for:
Top Four Cancers
In 2018 10,449 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. While it may not the most common cancer, it is the 5th biggest killer, with around 9,000 deaths every year (Pancreatic Cancer UK, 2021). It has also been shown to have the lowest five-year survival rate of only 5-7%. 90% of people who develop pancreatic cancer are older than 55 and 70% are older than 65 (Cancer.net, 2020).
Fortunately, with preventive measures such as improved lifestyle changes and pre-emptive health screenings 37% of pancreatic cancer cases in the UK may be prevented.
In 2015-2017 it was estimated that there were around 42,300 new cases of colon cancer (colorectal cancer, bowel cancer) in the UK each year. It is the 4th most common cancer in the UK and more common among males. Age-specific incidence rates rise very steeply from around age 50-55 and increase more and more after that (Cancer Research UK, 2021a).
When colon cancer is found early, it can often be cured – 54% of colon cancer cases can be prevented.
For women, breast cancer is the most common cancer. There are around 55,200 new breast cancer cases every year. Females aged 15-39 are less likely to be diagnosed at an early stage of breast cancer (47%) compared to those who are older (40-65+) (Cancer Research UK, 2021b). This is likely because most preventive breast cancer screening does not begin until the age of 40 unless they are perceived to be more at risk (Cancer.net, 2021).
According to Cancer Research UK, 23% of breast cancer cases may be preventable.
For men across the UK prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer. More than 47,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and it mainly affects men who are over the age of 50 (Prostate Cancer UK, 2021).
Unfortunately, no modifiable factors have been linked with prostate cancer risk despite the multitude of studies. Luckily, the survival rate is quite high with 86.6% of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer surviving for five or more years.
Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular disease assessment
Between 2001 and 2018 Ischaemic Heart Disease (IHD) has been the leading cause of death in males aged 50-64 (ONS, 2020). There are over 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK (Nice.org, 2019). According to Public Health England, over a third (38%) of first-time strokes happen to those aged between 40 and 69 years old (Gov.uk, 2018).
Apart from regular health screenings from the age of 50, there are several things you can do to decrease your risk of stroke, this includes a better diet, more exercise quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake.
Like strokes, there are 1.4 million survivors of heart attacks in the UK (BHF, 2021). There are more than 100,000 hospital admissions each year for heart attacks. Heart attacks are more common in men than women, however with the right help 7 out of 10 people survive.
There are several vascular diseases that people of older age are more prone to. These include abdominal aortic aneurysms, atherosclerosis, and carotid artery disease. These all affect the blood vessels in your body. For example, atherosclerosis is a disease that is caused by the build-up of plaque on the inner lining of arteries which restricts blood flow to the heart.
The build-up of plaque may lead to blood clots and potentially cut off circulation and lead to stroke. With increased screening and lifestyle changes, there has been a decrease in the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease in the UK between 2000-2019.
Joints, muscles, and bones are the mechanisms that keep you moving. Musculoskeletal disorders have a huge impact on people and can manifest in various illnesses associated with the muscles, nerves, tendon, joints, cartilage, and spinal disks (CDC, 2020). For example, osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones of a person, so they are more prone to breaking.
Your bones tend to stay stable and healthy between ages 25 and 50. After age 50 bone breakdown is much faster than bone formation and so you are more likely to develop osteoporosis (John Hopkins Medicine, 2021). There are scans and tests you can do to check for any abnormalities or if you are experiencing pain in your body.
When isolated, blood issues are not responsible for huge levels of mortality, however, any problems with your cholesterol level, blood pressure and blood sugar may increase your risk of developing certain diseases like type 2 diabetes or lead to stroke or heart attacks.
The NHS Long Term Plan includes a goal to prevent 150,000 strokes, heart attacks and dementia cases over the next ten years. They will focus on atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and high cholesterol as these are the most common risk factors that lead to strokes, heart attacks and many cases of dementia.
Why it is worth undergoing a health assessment:
Choosing a health assessment may be challenging. There are so many things to consider when it comes to your health that we have made a short guide on what to look out for.
As with any test, you should always ask your doctor about the benefits and risks. If you have a family history of any problems you may benefit from health assessments earlier, however preventive health screenings can benefit you and provide you with peace of mind regarding your health.
General Health Assessments:
The most common health assessments last about 30 minutes. It involves answering some questions about your lifestyle, family history, checks your height, weight, and blood pressure and carries out a blood test.
The resulting blood test may show the chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, or cancer. If you are over 65 you will also be told about signs of dementia.
This check is generalised and heavily relies on statistical data to provide you with information about potential health issues in the future. The advice about health improvements is oversimplified and mostly involves diet or lifestyle changes such as:
- Not smoking
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Keep your weight healthy
- Staying mindful to take care of your mental health
The downside to this type of health check is that although, these kinds of assessments can indicate potential mild health problems, they cannot see exactly what is happening deeper within the body to detect disease or cancer that may be present in your organs or other surrounding tissue.
What should you expect from a private health check?
- A trusted company that understands their clients’ needs and listens to their concerns.
- A provider that employs the most recent and innovative medical technology to achieve optimum and accurate results.
- A provider that does not believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach; one that respects your uniqueness and individual circumstances.
- A provider with a wide range of options for different individual needs – the accuracy of your assessment depends on how relevant your scans are.
- Be highly experienced medical practitioners and leaders within their field – your body and health must remain the priority throughout.
- A team with unparalleled client service to make you feel as comfortable as possible throughout the process.
- Most importantly, a provider that uses a combination of modalities to access the entirety of the body (CT, MRI and ultrasound). Full body MRI or CT scans on their own would not be suitable to get a full picture of your body as they are better suited for certain parts of your body.
Health Assessments at Echelon Health:
As you get older the priority should be given to assessments that look at your body and are not based on statistical analysis. Having a full-body health assessment will be invaluable. Therefore, Echelon Health provide world-leading health screenings for individuals who want peace of mind, knowing they are in top form.
You may still be asking why a health assessment is worth it. Well, there are several benefits that we provide at Echelon Health. Firstly, our health assessment is extremely thorough. It focuses on individual needs and does not consider statistical models for the diagnoses. We focus on the results from scans and tests to determine if you may be at risk of any diseases or illnesses.
Consequently, to find any abnormalities we utilise the correct test and medical imaging technology for the correct modality. Echelon Health has state of the art MRI, CT, and Ultrasound scanners. Each body part is looked at with the correct technology to make sure the optimal results are collected.
As a result of that, all scans and images are of the best quality. Your results may be reviewed by up to seven professionals who are experts in their respective areas so that nothing is missed.
Where medically appropriate we use the CT scanner to provide a holistic approach to our health assessments and all this thorough, head to toe testing results in one thing: with our Platinum Health Assessment, we can detect 92% of diseases that may lead to premature death; 94% in women. The science behind preventive health assessments is there; we can highlight underlying health problems and they can be acted upon very quickly.
To put it simply, at Echelon Health we do our best to protect your most valuable asset and ensure that you have a long, healthy life and can spend more time with your friends and family.
If you would like to learn more about the types of health assessments that we offer download our brochure. And if you are already sure that a health assessment is right for you, contact our team and we will help you as best we can.
Pancreatic Cancer UK (2021). Pancreatic cancer statistics. Available at: https://www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/what-we-do/media-centre/pancreatic-cancer-statistics/ (Accessed 20/10/2021).
Cancer.net (2020). Pancreatic Cancer: Risk Factors. Available at: https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/pancreatic-cancer/risk-factors#:~:text=The%20risk%20of%20developing%20pancreatic,be%20diagnosed%20with%20pancreatic%20cancer (Accessed 20/10/2021).
Cancer Research UK (2021). Pancreatic cancer statistics. Available at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/pancreatic-cancer#heading-Zero (Accessed 20/10/2021).
Cancer Research UK (2021)a. Bowel cancer statistics. Available at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/bowel-cancer#heading-Zero (Accessed 20/10/21).
Cancer Research UK (2021)b. Breast cancer statistics. Available at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/breast-cancer#heading-Zero (Accessed 20/10/2021).
Cancer.net (2021). Breast Cancer: Statistics. Available at: https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/breast-cancer/statistics (Accessed 20/10/2021).
Prostate Cancer UK (2021). About prostate cancer. Available at: https://prostatecanceruk.org/prostate-information/about-prostate-cancer (Accessed 20/10/2021).
Nice.org (2019). NICEimpact stroke. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/media/default/about/what-we-do/into-practice/measuring-uptake/nice-impact-stroke.pdf (Accessed 20/10/2021).
Gov.uk (2018). New figures show larger proportion of strokes in the middle aged. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-figures-show-larger-proportion-of-strokes-in-the-middle-aged (Accessed 20/10/2021).
ONS (2020). Leading causes of death, UK: 2001 to 2018. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/articles/leadingcausesofdeathuk/2001to2018#uk-leading-causes-of-death-by-age-group (Accessed 20/10/2021).
BHF (2021). Facts and figures. Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/news-from-the-bhf/contact-the-press-office/facts-and-figures (Accessed 20/10/2021).
CDC (2020). Work related Musculoskeletal Disorders & Ergonomics. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/health-strategies/musculoskeletal-disorders/index.html#:~:text=Musculoskeletal%20disorders%20(MSD)%20are%20injuries,to%20the%20condition%3B%20and%2For (Accessed 20/10/2021).
John Hopkins Medicine (2021). Osteoporosis: What You Need to Know as You Age. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/osteoporosis/osteoporosis-what-you-need-to-know-as-you-age (Accessed 20/10/2021).