With a growing number of health risks and plenty of health check options to choose from, it can be a confusing process to decide what is best for your organisation’s onsite health screening programme.
From the spectrum of tests available, it’s essential to include two key areas – blood pressure and (if your budget permits) cholesterol as these are well known to be ‘silent killers’. So someone with high blood pressure and cholesterol would ‘feel’ the same as someone with normal and healthy levels. The risk from each of these individually, but particularly combined, provides health professionals with a good idea of health status and at this stage information and advice would be provided. For around 10%* of people tested for blood pressure and cholesterol, a GP referral will be made as their results fall into the ‘at risk category’. Others will have ‘borderline’ results where more often than not, lifestyle changes (eg smoking, alcohol, exercise and diet) can have a very positive affect.
For more detailed health screening assessments, it is possible to break down the cholesterol into the good (HDL) and bad (LDL). The importance of this is that the LDL levels are linked with heart attacks as in essence, they block arteries, whereas the HDL’s role is to break down and remove the LDL from the body. Additionally a triglyceride test (the fat in your blood) can also be a good indicator of health risk. For HDL, LDL and Triglycerides, it is particularly important to fast for 9-12 hours to ensure accurate results.
Diabetes (blood glucose) is a key NHS focus as it is estimated that the cost of dealing with this is a staggering £1.5million per hour, so screening for this is important although for accurate results a 3 hour fasting period is recommended. Both the diabetes and cholesterol tests are carried out using ‘fingerprick’ technique which is a very safe and painless process.
Aside from the more medically based options, it’s important to consider body fat measurement and there are lots of good (and bad) ways to do this. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple height and weight ratio which nowadays isn’t used very much in the health industry as active people can often fall into the overweight/obese category because they have good muscle mass. Another option is Waist to Hip ratio (WHR) which calculates risk based on these two measurements. However a much better test for assessing risk is body composition which looks at the fat within the body and is considered to be much more accurate. Alongside the body composition test, and using the same equipment, it’s possible to measure hydration which can affect the body in several ways during the day and common signs of dehydration include headaches, fatigue, tiredness and poor decision making.
Once you know your numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, body composition and hydration, you have the opportunity to measure these important health screening tests which can be repeated annually, onsite and without any exercise involved! Typically, this series of tests takes just 15 minutes per person making it very simple to include in the working environment without causing any inconvenience. In addition to the aforementioned tests, other options available include lung function which can involve lung power and efficiency, metabolic rate and estimated daily calorie intake, and urinalysis which looks for blood, glucose, protein and others.
In the workplace, it’s important to include health screening tests that are carried out easily and without physical exertion, so tests that involve exercise (eg chester step test) are not at all suitable in the workplace. Some providers will give employees instant results in the form of a scorecard, however far fewer will have the capability to produce a same day printed report for the more detailed assessments. Once the screening process is complete, a good provider will produce a company health report which allows clients to become very proactive with health and wellbeing as you can focus on issues/trends within your organisation, rather than randomly choosing topics to invest in.
*Healthy Performance Ltd health screening data 2009-2013