As an older mum, readers of this blog know that I am determined to stay fit and well for as long as possible so that I am around for a decent amount of time for Caitlin and Ieuan.
Whilst I know the lifestyle choices I should be making, (good sleep hygiene, a healthy diet and hydration, exercise, stress management…), like many people I don’t always get it right (red wine, hello!).
As our local doctors’ surgery gets busier and busier and pre-bookable appointments entail at least a 3-week wait, asking for a general health checkup seems like a complete no-no and not the best use of NHS resources!
And yet, many of us would benefit greatly from a regular checkup and the monitoring of particular aspects of our health so that we don’t then end up in a hospital bed using up valuable NHS budget. It really is chicken and egg, isn’t it?
I recently discovered Thriva who offer a range of finger-prick blood tests which can be carried out at home. There are currently 4 tests, the Essential, the Advanced, the Thyroid and the one I took, the Baseline.
Simply order a pack which arrives through your door with detailed instructions and a bag in which to send back a small blood sample which you take by pushing a pinprick syringe into the little finger of your non-dominant hand.
Before you take the test you need to create an account online and register your pack. You’ll also be asked some basic medical questions to allow Thriva to build a picture of your current state of health. This will then become your personal online health dashboard.
There are no needles involved and no time off work is needed for a doctor’s appointment. Frequently these days the length of time allocated for a doctor’s appointment is around 10 minutes which is barely enough time for a proper chat about your general state of health.
Send your blood off in the freepost envelope supplied and it will then be analysed in an accredited UK laboratory. Results will be published within 48 hours in your personalised online dashboard on the Thriva website, once they have been reviewed by a UK qualified doctor.
I will be honest and say that I was a little nervous and the Husband administered the test for me – but nothing could have been simpler. You simply push a little syringe into your finger and gently massage so that the pot fills with blood. There was even a little card in the pack to take a Thriva finger-selfie (yes that’s a thing).
Mine was the baseline test which tests for Vitamin B12 and D, Cholesterol, Iron and Liver Function. Those of us who occasionally consume over our recommended units per week (14) will be very interested to learn the results of that one.
My results showed that I am borderline for Vitamin B12, low in Vitamin D, fine for Cholesterol and Iron and my liver function is fine (hurrah!).
Each result comes with an explanation and suggests ways to improve or maintain your health. You can also see a graphical representation of your results which maps where you are on the scale of high, low or median which helps you see where you may be lacking (or doing fine).
As with any test, of course, the results apply to that particular moment in time and it is reassuring that Thriva offers a way to regularly test yourself without needed a GP appointment.
The idea is that you subscribe and repeat the test every 3 months to track your health and manage the risk of any health conditions. Personally, I would prefer to take a test less often but if you already know that you are at risk of a particular health problem (for example you know you have raised cholesterol), a subscription may well make sense.
You are advised, however, to discuss the results of your Thriva test with your doctor so that you are all working in partnership and ensuring your health remains in tip-top condition.
In some cases, you may be advised to see your doctor immediately to confirm Thriva’s diagnosis – as I have been with my Vitamin B12 result because medication or further advice may be needed.
Knowing your cholesterol levels, for example, is important in assessing your risk of heart disease or a stroke and, as a tinnitus sufferer, low Vitamin B12 has been implicated as a possible contributor in some studies.
If you are wondering about your health but don’t have the time or inclination to see your doctor, Thriva tests are a way to at least see if you really should be booking that appointment.
Whilst I would not suggest that you rely on finger-prick blood tests completely, I think they are a great way to discover if you are OK – or if, in fact, there are things you should be doing to take better care of yourself – whether that is by adjusting your diet, taking more exercises or buying specific vitamin and mineral supplements.
I particularly liked Thriva’s easy to understand reporting of the results and the explanation of them. There’s plenty of extra information too to guide you to make better choices and to help you understand why a high or low result may be a problem.
For more information on the Thriva finger-prick blood tests, visit their website for prices and more information. Currently, there is 50% off your first test on valid products. Click here for details.
*Post contains an affiliate link. I received a Thriva Baseline Test for the purpose of this post.