IN A TRADITIONAL SETTING...
Some insurance companies now require you to provide photographic proof of identity. A driving licence photocard, passport or work identity cards are ideal.
On arrival, you will be asked to produce a urine sample and if you arrive early and require the use of the toilets, please let the receptionist know, so that we can ask you to give a sample. Blood tests are often required. We will advise you on your eating or fasting requirements. Normally, if fasting tests are required, you should fast for approximately 8-10 hours beforehand.
If you eat when you have been requested to fast, this has an immediate effect on your blood sugar, pushing it up by as much as 100% even in healthy people. People often think that eating immediately puts up your cholesterol level. It does not. It does however, immediately push up your Triglyceride level, another sort of fat in the blood. Drinking water or having a cup of tea or black coffee does not affect either of these levels, so it fine for you to drink normally. In fact, it is better to drink normally. Otherwise, you may dehydrate yourself, which in turn, would make you feel uncomfortably dry in the mouth and also makes the concentration of your blood greater (haemoconcentration). Haemoconcentration affects your sodium and potassium levels and other constituents of your blood and can produce artificially high levels of other contents of your blood. So, you should drink tea, coffee or water as normal. Fruit drinks may cause a rise in blood sugar, so these should be avoided.
Finally, please try to arrive on time. A medical examination nearly always takes a full 30 minutes. Patients are booked at 30 minute intervals through the day for a standard medical. Medicals can take longer, anything up to 1½ hours, although you will be advised at the time of booking the appointment, how long you should expect to allow for the medical. We do understand that people get held up in traffic or the transport system, but try to aim for 10 minutes earlier than the medical, so that you have some breathing space. Otherwise, more often than not, the patient is likely to be nervous and stressed which is likely to increase their heart rate and blood pressure. Obviously, we always do try to fit patients in, if they do arrive late and do try to make you feel comfortable and relaxed.
WHAT HAPPENS AT MY MEDICAL?
The first part of the medical consists of a series of questions about your health in the past.
You will be asked to state your occupation. What has this to do with your health? For example, if you are exposed to toxic fumes, you may be more likely to suffer from serious chest and respiratory complaints and sinus infections etc. The same may apply if you live
near a main road, this can expose you to excessive amounts of lead particles in the air or diesel fumes. From research, we do know that people who live near a busy main road, do
have higher levels of lead in their blood and in their tissues (such as brain) than people who live elsewhere. Also people who are exposed to diesel fumes and other fine particulate matter connected with heavy traffic, ie dust and tiny bits of rubber - also have a higher incidence of heart attacks.
You may also then think that it is healthier living in the countryside. Sadly, this is not really true. Crop spraying, dust and pollen from trees or plants can cause all sorts of toxic effects that can contribute to many types of illnesses - not just respiratory diseases.
Also, if you have an occupation that is considered a higher risk of injury, illness or death to the patient, or if you have a dangerous hobby or interest, insurance companies may take this all into account, when deciding on your insurance rates.
I regularly see patients who either live abroad or who still live abroad, but may spend part of their year in the UK. Does this matter? Yes, it does. It is not Insurance Companies who discriminate. It seems to be nature itself. For example, the incidence of stroke and raised blood pressure is indeed much higher in people of Afro-Caribbean stock, than in white Caucasians living in Europe. That is fact, not prejudice. Equally, the incidence of Diabetes and Obesity and Coronary Disease and Death, is markedly higher in people from South Asia. Now that we are able to discover so much more about genes, there is hope that we may unravel more precise causes for these discrepancies.
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The hope is, that if we had a better understanding, we might, not only, be able to identify those at greatest risk, but also be able to either prevent illness in those at high risk. Or at least, it might enable us to treat people in specific ways that are appropriate to their genetic background. This would literally save millions of lives. Other links between ethnicity and disease may be quite specific, for example, the high incidence of breast cancer in Jewish women of Eastern European origin. Some diseases are only found in people from one race or geographical extraction. For example, Tay Sachs Disease. This is a genetically determined disease which affects the nervous system and only occurs in Jewish people originating from Eastern Europe. The more we discover about genes, the more illnesses we find that are quite specific to people who come from certain areas. Serious blood diseases such as Thalassaemia, is quite specific to people from the Mediterranean basin. Sickle cell anaemia which has a high incidence in African people are just two illustrations. There are very many others.
So surprisingly, where you live, what are your origins and what you do for a living may all have a great bearing on the risk to your life, when you apply for insurance.
The contents on this site is for information only, and is not meant to substitute the advice of your own physician or other medical professional.