FREE NHS health MOTs for over-40s cut the risk of a heart attack or stroke, says new research.
The study found that over a six-year period those who attended were more likely to have lost weight, lowered blood pressure and given up smoking than those who snub the test offer.
All three are major causes of cardiovascular disease that claims 150,000 lives in Britain each year.
Lead researcher Samah Alageel said: “These results show the NHS Health Check programme carries a potential for reducing cardiovascular risk through the early assessment and management of risk.”
Recent statistics show less than half those eligible for the free checks take up the offer.
In December it was revealed that around 7.15 million people have had a free health check since 2013 – yet 15 million are eligible.
The 20-minute check can pick up early signs of stroke, kidney or heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia.
The latest findings are based on data from 127,891 participants who all completed the health check between 2010 and 2016.
NHS England says identifying people with an irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure and giving them treatment would help to prevent dangerous blood clots which could lead to strokes.
And if more people attended their health checks, the number of people having a stroke or other heart problems would be reduced – potentially preventing thousands of cases of vascular dementia.
By checking blood pressure, family history, lifestyle, height and weight, it is possible to give an idea of your risk of getting certain illnesses.
After the check, people can expect to receive personalised advice on how to lower your risk of all those conditions by improving your diet, taking more exercise, taking medicines to lower blood pressure or cholesterol, losing weight and stopping smoking.