This advice sheet covers the common tests we perform. Please note your individual screen may not contain all these elements.
Body Mass Index
An individuals body mass index is calculated from their height and weight measurements, and gives an indication of how close an individual is to his/her ideal weight. It is very important that weight is kept within sensible limits, not just for cosmetic reasons, but also to avoid health problems associated with being overweight or underweight. If an individual is overweight, exercise is needed and a balanced diet should be observed in order to control the problem.
Everybody has blood pressure. The pressure is created by the heart’s constant pumping of blood around the body and the size of the blood vessels through which the blood passes. In a healthy young adult, a normal blood pressure is around 120/80. Exercise, excitement, anger or anxiety all make the heart beat faster and increase blood pressure temporarily. This short increase in pressure is normal, but a consistently high blood pressure presents a problem since it places a strain on the heart. High blood pressure, called hypertension, occurs when blood pressure rises and remains at a level which may cause a heart attack or stroke.
This is a simple test using a special stick to assess the urine for levels of sugar, protein and blood. It gives an indication as to whether the kidneys are functioning normally, as certain diseases can cause changes in the urine before any symptoms are felt by the individual. The test only takes a minute and individuals will be told of any abnormality during their medical.
Lung function test
The lung function test measures the total amount of expired air and the rate of expiration over a period of time. This is an excellent test of how efficiently the lungs are working. The results are compared with normal values adjusted for age, race, height and sex. A spirometry graph is produced which gives type and extent of any abnormality identified. Variations from the normal are often seen in heavy smokers or people suffering from asthma.
This measures a person’s ability to see objects at three different distances. Near, which approximates to ordinary reading, far, which estimates the vision needed for everyday activities such as driving, and a special test which looks at ability to see objects at 26 inches, which approximates to the vision required for using a visual display unit (VDU) or computer. This latter test is important as eye strain and fatigue can result if an individual’s eyes have to struggle to see the characters on a screen. Some people may require special spectacles to wear when using VDU’s for prolonged periods.
Audiometry is a test which measures a person’s hearing ability. Calibrated headphones are worn, and the subject asked to listen to short tones which vary in pitch and intensity. As the tones are heard, the subject is asked to press a small response button, and the next sound is adjusted accordingly. At the end of the test, a graph is printed showing the hearing ability of each ear across a range of frequencies. The operator will assess the graph to see if hearing is below normal levels for age, and if any problems are apparent about which the subject should visit their own doctor. If previous tests are available for comparison, it is possible to see if any untoward deterioration has occurred which would indicate intervention.
A small drop of blood is required which is obtained by a pin prick to the end of a finger. The blood is placed on a test strip which fits into an analysing machine. After a brief wait, the cholesterol level is displayed. Information is given to the individual regarding their result, how this compares to acceptable levels and what action needs to be taken with diet or seeing their GP for further investigation. The pin pricks are sterile and these, along with all other items coming into contact with blood, are disposable single use only items so that there is no risk of cross-contamination.
The fitness test is a computer based test. Information regarding height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, body fat and lung function is entered on to the computer. The individual then undertakes a cycle test while their pulse is monitored by the computer. At the end of the cycle test, the computer analyses the results and a print-out is obtained detailing the individual’s stamina level, body fat percentage, lung function, blood pressure and pulse results. A programme of exercise may also be obtained from the computer, based on the individual level of fitness.