Health checks causing stress, research finds

Visiting a doctor for a general check-up or health “MOT” is unlikely to lead to the identification of a condition that needs treatment but it may cause undue stress, research has argued.

The Danish study for The Cochrane Library involved more than 180,000 patients.

In England, people aged between 40 and 74 have been offered a free health check since 2009, but the study said doctors should stop offering them. The checks are designed to spot conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes by looking for “silent” risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

In one trial, health checks led to more diagnoses of all kinds. In another, the health check group were more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol than the control group, while in three other trials large numbers of abnormalities were identified in the screened groups.

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