I HAD feared the worst after a trio of Covid vaccines and a week layed out with the virus in the spring, following an Easter holiday in London.
A typical male hypochondriac, I was convinced I had picked up long Covid and was about to sink into a serious health slump.
While my sense of smell and taste had come back, I still had a cough, a tight chest and had, strangely, lost some feeling in my arms.
So I booked myself in for a full body MOT, a comprehensive medical check to see how I had really weathered the pandemic and if there was anything untoward to worry about.
The tests at Executive Health, in Marbella, included a detailed MRI exam of the pelvis, abdomen and thorax, as well as a detailed look at my heart and lungs and a full analysis of my urine, blood and poo to boot.
Coming two years after my last full check-up at the clinic, I figured the results would be interesting.
The main point, Dr Henrik Reinhard, a heart specialist, told me was to calm down and stop worrying; I was not going to die.
In actual fact, my health had improved a little since I had taken a full check up in 2020.
Partly due to the Danish doctor’s advice back then to eat less meat, cram in more vegetables and take more exercise, I was actually doing well.
In particular, he cited my lung function which he found was 17% better than two years ago, while my blood pressure (at 112/70) was ‘like a young man in his twenties’.
That said, there was plenty of room for improvement. I was still overweight (by an alarming five to six kilos, by his estimate) and my risk of developing cardiovascular disease over the next 10 years is 11.5% which is ‘too high’, in part thanks to the occasional cigarette.
“While you have made some inroads, in particular with diet and exercise, you should be able to get that risk down to 2.9%,” insists Henrik.
Mostly by giving up smoking, drinking less and improving my good cholesterol, which would help me get there. He also gave me a helpful list of all the things I should be eating including beetroot, chickpeas and fennel, as well as a teaspoon of vinegar every day.
Well now summer is nearly over, I am going to give it a go.
What’s in a test
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) combines a powerful magnetic field with radio frequencies to create detailed images of your internal organs and body structure.
And this means checking all your organs, bones and tissues, with Henrik advising a five year check for the heart for anyone over 40, as well as an annual check for cancer.
The tests only take a couple of hours and the results come back by the following week, including the lab results of the blood, urine and stool tests.
The full body check is an excellent way to pick out abnormalities, including damaged tissues, inflammation, infection and, most importantly, cancer.
“We’ve found cancers, cardiovascular disease and aneurysms in asymptomatic people, often young people who had no idea,” explains Henrik. “One of them recently was only 40 years old.
“All the dangerous diseases have manifestations in the body and finding them is the concept of what we do here.”
Eat your way to health
Doctor Henrik, 47, is quick to offer improvements to your health, in particular with diet.
The Dane, who moved to Spain with his wife Rikke and children a decade ago, is a big fan of a vegan, plant-based, wholefood diet, but accepts that most people will eat some meat and poultry.
“But a mostly non-meat diet is the best way to tackle many issues, particularly digestive or stomach complaints,” he insists
He claims that eating poultry increases your risk of cancer (pancreatic cancer by 72%) and red meat is even worse for your health, with pork slightly better than lamb and beef.
In terms of drinking, a few glasses of wine are fine but try and have a couple of days of abstinence a week.
READER HEALTH OFFER
Executive Health clinic, which opened in Marbella in 2018, is offering full body check up costs 1,495 euros, with a very special 500 euros discount for Olive Press readers, at just 995 euros.
“After all the COVID issues I am sure that many readers have not been getting their normal health checks at the local hospital,” says Henrik. “We want to encourage people not to ignore their health and we can do the same and a lot, lot more in a far safer environment.”
The significant annual health check needs to be booked in advance and depends on availability.