Health checks for the over 40s

Last reviewed:
29 May 2024,

Medically reviewed by:

Turning 40 is a milestone, especially for your health and wellbeing. Staying well can be difficult with busy modern lifestyles and significant ‘life events’ that are common among people in their 40s. Alongside juggling family and caring for elderly parents or relatives, progressing your career, and maintaining a good work-life balance, it’s an ideal time for health checks.

From blood pressure to dental care and from heart to hearing, health checks can empower you and keep you on track towards a longer, healthier life. They provide essential knowledge into potential risks and hidden issues. For example, an estimated 32% of adults have high blood pressure (hypertension) and 3 in 10 of those (29%) are undiagnosed – that’s nearly 4.2 million adults with undiagnosed hypertension in England alone.

Proactive prevention: The 40-year advantage

While you might feel that health worries in your 40s are a bit premature, the earlier the diagnosis, the easier it is to tackle issues head-on. This gives you more time to work things out, manage illnesses and treat conditions – which can lead to much better outcomes. That’s the proactive thinking behind the latest campaign in the UK, fronted by former Liverpool and international footballer Graeme Souness, who is encouraging people over 40 years old to get their blood pressure checked.

Hypertension is often dubbed the “silent killer” because it typically presents no symptoms while posing serious threats, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. So, knowing your blood pressure is a key indicator of heart health, plus it enables early intervention, which might involve lifestyle changes or medication to manage and reduce risks. This helps to prevent the worst happening and contributes to an overall healthier life where your heart doesn’t have to work overtime.

In your 40s, you’ve gained know-how, wisdom and experience – now it’s time to apply these useful attributes to your health. Let’s look at 7 checks that can empower and inform you to manage age-related health risks effectively.

Recommended health checks in your 40s

1. Blood pressure checks: Essential for the over 40s

A quick, regular blood pressure check can tell you a lot about your health, specifically your cardiovascular fitness. Systems like Aktiia’s blood pressure wearable device make monitoring your blood pressure more convenient and unobtrusive than ever before. The accuracy of Aktiia is comparable to traditional cuff devices, but with the added advantage of continuous monitoring, even during sleep. This makes Aktiia a reliable tool for keeping track of blood pressure and identifying patterns and potential issues that might not be apparent from irregular measurements in clinical settings.

The bonus is that continuous feedback on your blood pressure can motivate you on your health journey. This phenomenon, known as the Aktiia effect, helps you take proactive steps towards healthier lifestyle choices. Seeing real-time data and understanding how different activities and habits affect your blood pressure can encourage positive changes, such as increased physical activity, better stress management and healthier eating habits.

2. Blood tests: A snapshot of your health

An annual blood test offers insights into vital health markers like blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Obtaining a blood test involves a healthcare provider, such as a GP, who will recommend the test based on your health needs. The procedure is straightforward: a small amount of blood is drawn, usually from the arm, and the procedure typically takes just a few minutes with minimal discomfort.

An incredible 3.6 billion blood tests are carried out globally each year. In the US, services like Quest Diagnostics offer the flexibility of purchasing lab tests directly, allowing you to take charge of your health monitoring without necessarily waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Blood tests for those over 40 as can detect conditions that become more prevalent with age, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Understanding these results allows for timely interventions that can significantly impact your long-term wellbeing.

The use of AI in analysing blood samples is an emerging trend that can improve the accuracy and efficiency of diagnoses. This supports personalised healthcare by identifying patterns or anomalies in the blood sample data that might not be evident through existing methods. Whether through traditional healthcare channels or direct-to-consumer services, staying informed about your health through a blood test is more accessible than ever.

3. Calcium score: Understanding your heart health

Understanding your heart health, especially into your 40s, is crucial for preventing heart disease, which remains a leading cause of death globally.

The calcium score test is a non-invasive and straightforward procedure that can help. A short CT scan assesses the amount of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. The presence of calcium is an indicator of atherosclerosis, a condition characterised by the build-up of plaque that can narrow or block arteries, leading to heart disease or a heart attack.

The test is beneficial for those with a family history of heart disease and individuals with high cholesterol, diabetes or raised blood pressure, among other risk factors. The procedure itself is quick, taking only about 10 to 15 minutes, and requires minimal preparation. During the scan, electrode patches are placed on the chest to connect to an electrocardiogram monitor, which tracks the heart’s electrical activity. The scanner then uses this information to produce clear, detailed images of the coronary arteries. The first step is to discuss with your healthcare provider whether this test might be suitable for you, based on your family health risk factors and the potential benefits.

4. Eye exams: Keeping your vision sharp

Regular eye exams become crucial in your 40s. Not only for clear vision (including small print and screens), they can reveal the early signs of diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests a baseline eye disease screening at 40, even if you don’t have any vision problems.

This initial screening helps set a baseline for your eye health, against which future changes can be measured. It’s an important step in detecting eye diseases that are common in adults over 40, offering a better chance for early treatment and preservation of vision. The CDC emphasises the importance of eye exams in preventing permanent vision loss due to common eye diseases​.

5. What’s your skin’s story at 40?

Regular dermatological checks are vital for the early detection of skin cancer. Getting a dermatologist to examine moles (both new and changing) is recommended as rates of this type of cancer are on the increase among the over 40s. In the past decade, the number of new invasive melanoma cases diagnosed annually increased by 32%.

Most dermatological services are usually accessed via a referral from a health practitioner. Some private health providers and insurance schemes allow members to speak directly to them about symptoms concerning moles and skin cancer without needing to see a doctor first. They can provide advice, support and potentially a referral based on your symptoms.

Another trend is digital dermatology where you can get an online consultation without needing a referral. In the UK, the NHS is looking at many ways to deliver monitoring and support to patients. Put simply, you can fill in your symptoms, attach images and a dermatologist will review and reply with a diagnosis and treatment plan. These services cover many skin conditions and prescriptions can also be delivered to your door.

6. Keep smiling in your 40s

Maintaining oral health becomes increasingly vital as you age due to its significant links to overall health, including cognitive functions like memory. Research has highlighted a connection between poor oral health, particularly gum disease, and an increased risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. One of the mechanisms that could underlie this connection is inflammation caused by gum disease and bacteria entering the bloodstream.

Accessing quality dental care, however, presents challenges around cost and availability. For those without dental insurance or local coverage, regular check-ups and treatments are less accessible. The UK’s current shortage of dental providers has led to long waiting times for appointments and urgent treatments. These issues are exacerbated by ageing populations who are at a higher risk of both dental issues and cognitive decline.

The best way to safeguard your oral and overall health is a routine of regular brushing, flossing and dental check-ups. These will protect your teeth and gums and can have far-reaching benefits for you and your cognitive health as you age.

7. Hearing at 40: Staying connected

If you’re noticing changes in your hearing, you’re not alone. Hearing loss is a significant global issue, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that nearly 2.5 billion people could have some degree of hearing loss by 2050. Currently, over 1.5 billion people live with hearing loss, with 430 million experiencing disabling hearing loss. This prevalence increases with age, affecting over 25% of people older than 60 years.

The connection between hearing loss, ageing and loneliness is also profound. Hearing loss can lead to difficulties in communication, which in turn can cause social isolation and loneliness, especially among the elderly. This underscores the importance of regular hearing assessments to stay connected to the world around us.

Early detection of hearing conditions is crucial for effective treatment. Conditions like chronic ear infections and age-related hearing loss can often be managed or treated if caught early. For instance, interventions like hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices can significantly improve quality of life for those with hearing loss. However, accessing quality hearing care remains a challenge for many, especially in low- and middle-income countries where there is a significant gap in the availability of ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists and audiologists. A first step is usually with your healthcare provider or GP.

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Taking control through health checks

In your 40s, making lifestyle changes can significantly impact your health and wellbeing. But that requires knowledge and insights – which is where health checks can help you maximise your potential for a healthy life.

Health checks can be a catalyst for lifestyle changes. For you, that might mean a more-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Or taking up physical activity – 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week is linked to lower rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several forms of cancer. If a test highlights borderline hypertension, then monitoring it closely could motivate you to make major lifestyle changes.

In your 40s, it’s time to take control and remove the worry. Routine health checks are a proactive route to better health, keeping you informed and improving your quality of life. Why not use this checklist of health checks as a conversation starter with your healthcare provider. Together, you can make a health plan that addresses your unique needs and which could add years to your life and life to your years.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes only and not intended as medical advice. If you have any health concerns, please consult with your physician or qualified healthcare provider. Any changes to your diet or lifestyle should be made under medical supervision. The author and publisher are not responsible for any adverse effects resulting from the use or application of the information presented in this article.


Risk factors for undiagnosed high blood pressure in England, 27 Apr 2023 –

Over-40s urged to get free blood pressure checks, 11 Mar 2024 –

Unlocking the potential of blood tests through AI, 18 Dec 2023 –

Quest Diagnostics –

Heart Disease Facts, 15 May 2023 –

Eye Exam and Vision Testing Basics, 14 Feb 2024 –

Keep an Eye on Your Vision Health, 1 Oct 2020 –

Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics, Feb 2024 –

How to use digital ways of working to improve outcomes for patients –

Large study links gum disease with dementia, 9 Jul 2020 –

Deafness and hearing loss, 2 Feb 2024 –

Medically Reviewed

dr jay shah photo

Renowned cardiologist, physician leader, and angel investor.

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About the Author

Piotr Kudela, aspiring writer and website editor, with keen interest in health technology. Backed by strong academic foundation and professional experience in search marketing. In his writings, Piotr combines insights from blood pressure research with his fascination for health wearables. He aims to contribute to scientific progress and improve global health through technology.

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