In an earlier post, I shared my experience of having Hyperemesis Gravidarum in pregnancy and explained how it had a huge impact on my overall life, as well as my physical and mental health. From this experience, I learned just how important my health is and how much our lives depend on us being well enough to live them.
Of course, not all illnesses and health conditions can be prevented (HG as an example), but there's a lot that can be: Diabetes Type 2, hypertension and high cholesterol - to name a few. I've previously shared how I've overcome pre-diabetes and hypertension as a teen, as well as watching my father suffer from these conditions to the extent of being diagnosed last year as having vascular dementia, as a direct result of a stroke caused by a piece of cholesterol breaking off in his brain.
As you can probably imagine, once I had finally found my way out of the clouds of the Post Natal Depression which followed my difficult pregnancy, I was keen to prioritise my health and refocus my goals.
As any health professional would tell you, the best way to refocus your goals is to begin with assessing where you're at right now. So that's exactly what I did, thanks to the Bupa Health Enhance Assessment.
What is assessed in the Bupa Health Enhance Assessment?
Bupa's Health Enhance Assessment is a two-hour assessment, split into a one-hour session with a Bupa Health Advisor and a one-hour session with a GP. The physical assessment included a test of the following:
- Body Composition: Weight, BMI, body fat percentage, waist-height ratio.
- Heart Health: Blood pressure, checked three times, using both arms and a test for atrial fibrillation (which my father has a pacemaker fitted for, so this was of great interest to me).
- Blood work: Blood glucose, blood cholesterol and full blood count.
- Urine test for the presence of blood, glucose and protein.
- Musculoskeletal Assessment to identify functional weaknesses which influence mobility, stability and balance. This is a set of gentle exercises carried out on a yoga mat - so be sure to wear comfortable clothing for the appointment!
- A smear test & breast examination (carried out with a chaperone present, as my doctor was male). This would be substituted for a check for male-specific cancers for male patients.
Prior to the appointment, I received an online health questionnaire which asked about lifestyle and mental wellbeing. This was useful as it meant the appointment could be kept to the tests and leave plenty of time for discussion and practical advice.
I often think that when it comes to mental health questionnaires, these are easier to complete at home rather than in front of someone - or at least, I personally feel like I'm more likely to be honest! For me, my completed questionnaire acted as the prompt I needed for a doctor to talk to me about mental health, as I've never felt comfortable starting the conversation. So, this alone, was a huge help to me and started the ball rolling by passing the information onto my GP (only with my consent, of course) and arranging an appointment to discuss my concerns further.
During the Health Advisor Appointment
I arrived a little early for my 8.30am appointment at Leicester's Spire Hospital, which worked out well as I could provide a urine sample straight away. The first hour was with the Bupa Health Advisor who was friendly and put me at ease straight away. She took my blood and carried out a few quick tests, like blood pressure, before moving onto the Musculoskeletal (MSK) Assessment on the yoga mat. The MSK test wasn't too dissimilar to some of the moves I'm used to from my Pilates class.
After this, we sat down and had a chat about my general lifestyle based on my answers to the pre-appointment questionnaire. I was really surprised that the results of almost all my tests came back during this time! Thankfully my results have shown that I'm in good health, the only 'flag' on my report being my weight, which I was already aware of. What I particularly liked is that the emphasis wasn’t placed on my weight but instead on my overall health and fitness. I really liked this approach as I feel nutrition, joyful exercise and mental wellbeing need to be focused on, rather than weight loss. It was a relief to know that although my weight had crept back up during breastfeeding, my overall health was good. If anything, this reinforced my instinct that when I was pre-diabetic and hypertensive as a teen, this was down to my lifestyle (lack of exercise, poor nutrition, excessive alcohol) rather than directly down to my weight.
I walked out of the first half of my appointment feeling relieved and focused on maintaining my exercise routine (a mix of swimming, weight lifting, yoga, dance, and walks in the park with my son, all of which I'm really enjoying!) and gentle nutrition (Intuitive Eating, as I'll be talking about more on the blog in the coming weeks).
During the Doctor's Appointment
During the doctor's appointment, I had the option to be examined for female cancers (breast and cervical) with a female chaperone present. I must confess, until this appointment, I didn't even know how to check my breasts - this is something they should teach us in school, so we can form the habit young! The smear test was also a very important component. Cervical cancer has affected women I know, and I make a point of attending my smear appointment. The results of this test came back a week later.
The doctor also ran through my health questionnaire and asked me about any concerns I might have about my general health. Mental health is my main concern following the birth of my son, as I suffered from Postnatal Depression for well over a year afterwards and flashbacks to the birth and my pregnancy. While the flashbacks have thankfully stopped after doing some work on Birth Trauma, I don't feel like I ever fully resolved my PND, although there's been a significant improvement. Talking about my mental health was cathartic and it was the push I needed to talk to my GP about it and push for the help I’ve needed for a very long time.
Afterwards: The Report
I received my report online almost immediately after the appointment, it was also updated a week later with the results of my smear test. I requested to have a summary of results sent over to my GP to be placed on my medical record.
On the first page of the report, my personal medical action plan is outlined and then explained in depth in the next few pages. Spanning across 25 pages, all my test results are listed and clearly explained. I like having these results in a report format as it will enable me to use them as a benchmark for future test results and show me how I'm progressing.
Ongoing Support: Bupa Boost App, Health Coaching Calls & Anytime HealthLine
At the assessment, I set my lifestyle goals which are tied in with my medical plan of action outlined in the report. I can track my progress with these using the Bupa Boost App which is free, with a password to use the service given at the Health Assessment. I'm going to receive two 15-minute follow-up calls from a health coach soon, to discuss my progress and give me a chance to ask any follow-up questions I might have at the time. I also have access to the Anytime HealthLine service, which gives you access to a team of nurses and GPs who can provide advice 24/7.
The Benefits of a Bupa Health Assessment
Having had a family history of a lot of inheritable conditions, as well as an increased risk of others due to genetic pre-disposition and my own past medical history, I always make a conscious effort to keep track of my blood pressure, cholesterol level and blood glucose. Most people don't know what their readings for these would be unless they're already aware of a health condition. The trouble is, serious conditions such as diabetes type 2 can undetected for years and lead to serious health complications, so it's important to keep tabs on them.
Using home test kits have always given me a good starting point, but the Bupa health assessment was much more detailed. It covered far more areas of my physical health which would be impossible to test at home and to have two full hours to talk to two different health professionals was incredibly valuable.
Overall, I feel I've benefited from not only peace of mind about my physical health but the friendly push I needed to reach out for support with my mental health. I love the ongoing support and coaching available to help me with my health goals.
Booking the Appointment
If you're interested in booking a Bupa health assessment, you can do so easily on the Bupa website. There are clinics available all over the country and you can choose a time and date to suit you, as well as your preferred gender of the doctor (or simply request a chaperone at the appointment if you wish).
There's also a wide range of different Health Assessment options to choose from. On the Bupa website, you can download a table to compare different types. You don't have to have private medical insurance to access these services as Bupa health clinics offer Pay as You Go services, although Bupa insurance customers receive 10% off health assessments
Disclosure: I was very kindly offered a free Health Enhanced assessment for the purposes of this review. As always, my opinions are honest. This review forms part of a wider campaign, sponsored by Bupa. You can check out my previous post for Bupa as part of the #EverydayMoments campaign, as well as my interview on the Bupa Blog.