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‘Free health check helped save my life’ - Norwich care worker urges others to take up free test

PUBLISHED: 06:30 15 March 2014

Care worker Becky Ngembu. Photo: Bill Smith

Care worker Becky Ngembu. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

A care home worker from Norwich is urging others to take up the opportunity of a free NHS health check after her test results potentially saved her life.

Becky Ngembu, 52, was shocked to discover that her blood pressure was so high that she could have had a stroke or heart attack at any minute.

Despite having no other physical symptoms, the health check, carried out by a pharmacist at her workplace, showed her blood pressure to be 235 over 135. A normal blood pressure reading should be around 120 over 80.

Ms Ngembu, who lives off Essex Street, said: “The pharmacist said he was extremely concerned about my blood pressure, which was a real shock because I felt absolutely fine – just a bit tired. But I thought that was just because I’d been working hard and been busy over Christmas. But, in fact, my blood pressure was so high that I could have had a stroke or a heart attack at any time.”

The pharmacist made an emergency appointment with her GP, who carried out more tests and contacted a consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for expert advice and she was immediately put onto life-saving medication to help lower her blood pressure and was signed off work for 10 days to rest.

Her blood pressure is still high, but is gradually lowering to a safer level and she is being carefully monitored by her GP practice.

She added: “Having a health check could really save your life.

“When you think about it, it only takes a few minutes, but could add years to your life – if it helps to pick up a potentially life-threatening condition.

“With high blood pressure it’s frighteningly easy to have it and not have any other symptoms; no warning signs that there’s anything wrong sometimes until it’s too late.

“I’m just so glad mine was picked up and I’ve been able to do something about it.”

Ms Ngembu was offered her free NHS Health Check through a workplace scheme, at Norsecare-owned Somerley Care Home, but the checks are also available in most GP surgeries and at over 50 pharmacies across Norfolk. Norfolk County Council Public Health funds NHS Health Checks for residents aged 40 to 74.

An NHS Health Check takes up to 30 minutes and you can have a free health check once every five years. The health check records blood pressure, weight, cholesterol levels and blood sugar. This helps to assess the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney disease or diabetes.

For more information about NHS Health Checks in Norfolk, visit

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