We usually go to the doctor when an illness has already manifested, disrupting our normal life. This approach cannot be considered correct, as it is far easier to get rid of an ailment right at the outset. And it’s better still to identify weak spots in your organism in advance, and to work in line with the principle, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” especially since it is not necessary to spend money by going to a private clinic. You can get a free medical check-up once a year at one of the city’s 65 healthcare centres.
A check-up takes between 30 minutes and an hour. You will need a passport, a health insurance policy and a phone to make an appointment. This can be done by calling the hotline of the city Department of Healthcare: +7 (499) 251-83-80. You can also call the health centre of your choice or go there in person and make an appointment. The list of centres for adults is available here; to see the addresses and telephone numbers of children's centres, go to –
You will be able to determine your basic health indicators and a forecast for the next several years. After that, a doctor will issue recommendations, following which you will live a better and longer life.
Let’s consider in detail what will be checked, how and why. The standard components of a check-up at all healthcare centres are the same, as is the cost, or rather, the lack of cost: everything is free of charge.
Height, cholesterol, sugar
They begin with simple things: they measure your height, body weight, and waistline, and calculate your body mass index. This indicator helps understand whether you are carrying excess weight. The normal index varies between 18.5 and 24.99.
Then they measure your blood pressure to determine whether you have hypertension. This is followed by more complex tests. Cholesterol and blood sugar levels are determined by using test strips. A blood sample is taken from the fingertip, and the results are available in two or three minutes. The doctor will also check you for any fat metabolism disorders. The procedure is conducted with a homeostasis analyser and is designed to assess your physical activity level, as well as your energy, protein and fat metabolism.
The fiery engine of the heart
For an engine to work efficiently and generate enough fire for as long as possible, it is necessary to evaluate overall cardiovascular risks in good time. The doctor will not only check a patient’s condition at the time of examination, but will also make a forecast for the next 10 years. For this purpose, the international SCORE (Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation) table is used. This makes it possible to evaluate the risk of death from cardiovascular pathologies, including, for example, ischemic heart disease and atherosclerosis of the peripheral and cerebral arteries. Importantly, clinical symptoms of a disease may not be evident at the time of an examination. This method evaluates risks based on a specific set of factors. It is enough to know a patient's gender, age, blood cholesterol level and systolic blood pressure, as well as whether he (she) smokes.
The table contains numbers for corresponding age and sex groups, as well as in relation to smoking. They show the risk of death from cardiovascular disease over the next 10 years in percentages. An index of over five percent is considered high. You need not panic even if you end up in an at-risk group. The doctor will advise you on how to avoid the daunting prospect and change your lifestyle.
At the centre, a patient will also have an express evaluation of his (her) heart condition based on ECG signals from the limbs with the help of CardioVisor, a unique Russian heart-screening system. An image appears on a monitor and problem areas are marked in colour. The results are handed over to the patient.
Next, the ankle-brachial index. Yes, there is such an index. It refers to the detection of early signs of atherosclerosis in the vessels of the lower extremities. Changes in the ankle-brachial index can be a precursor to serious diseases, such as myocardial infarction and stroke. An angiological screening system is used to measure blood pressure in your upper and lower extremities, and the results are compared.
Body composition and lung capacity
By using the Medass-01 bioimpendance-metre, the doctor will determine the patient’s body composition: the ratio of water, fat and muscle mass. Electrodes are attacked to the limbs, through which low-voltage current flows. The device analyses the condition of the organism’s internal environment. The fact is that each type of human body tissue has a specific electrical resistance value (impedance). Based on this value, the amount of fluid, fat and muscle tissue in the organism is calculated.
It is important to assess the key indicators of the respiratory system. In particular, a spirometer is used to determine the vital capacity of the lungs. This is the amount of air that a person can get into his (her) lungs after the maximum exhalation. The norm for an adult is approximately 3,500 cubic centimetres. For athletes, this figure can be 1,000–1,500 cubic centimetres more, and in swimmers, it can reach 6,200 cubic centimetres. In overweight people, it is 10–11 percent less. With high vital capacity, the lungs are better ventilated and the organism gets a lot of oxygen. Other indicators include the forced respiratory volume, the Tiffeneau index, and the peak expiratory flow, among others.
The doctor will also check how bad tobacco is for you if you smoke and if you don’t smoke, whether you are affected by second-hand smoke. The doctor will determine the content of CO2 and carboxyhemoglobin in the air that you exhale. This is done with the help of special devices: a Smokelyser, carbon monoxide analyser and Micro CO and Smoke Check gas analysers.
At the centre, you will have your intraocular pressure measured with a non-contact method, and will undergo a visual acuity check. Both tests are conducted with the help of the Polivisus Simplex ophthalmological complex, which makes it possible, among other things, to identify the first signs of glaucoma.
And of course, it is necessary to check the condition of the teeth and oral cavity. The next item on the programme is a check-up by a dentist.
There are also optional checks. For example, if necessary, the frequency and regularity of heart beats and the saturation of arterial blood with oxygen can be determined.
After all the measurements, calculations and evaluations are made, a patient is issued a Healthy Lifestyle Chart. It includes examination results and medical recommendations. It also features the risk factors that have been identified, if any. In this case, the patient will be placed under dynamic observation. In about three months after the visit, he (she) will be invited for a follow-up examination to monitor changes. In addition, if signs or high risk of a particular disease have been identified, the doctor will refer this patient to a clinic to which he or she is associated.
Each centre has a health school. Depending on the risk factors identified in a patient, one or several such schools are recommended. Classes are conducted several times a week.
The hypertension school teaches about the effects of this disease: atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. Doctors explain how to deal with high blood pressure, noting in particular that treatment should be continuous, and that it is necessary to monitor all changes.
The quit smoking school will explain the connection between smoking addiction and the development of serious diseases. But most importantly, specialists will give patients practical recommendations on how to quit smoking. Regular attendance will help patients follow these recommendations. First, you can discuss the difficulties of quitting with other smokers who have embarked on the path of correction. Second, we usually follow recommendations more responsibly if we know that we are being monitored, especially by a doctor.
Specialists at the healthy eating school will explain how excessive weight is linked to diabetes, diseases of the musculoskeletal system and hypertension. Patients with elevated cholesterol levels will learn about the dangers involved. Of course, the most important thing is not to frighten students, but to give them an opportunity to remedy the situation. Doctors will tell you how to eat right and what physical exercise will help you get better. You can also attend physical therapy sessions at health centres.
There are 65 health centres in Moscow: 47 for adults and 18 for children. Since they were established (seven years ago), 2,814,198 people have received comprehensive check-ups, including 2,179,305 adults and 634,893 children and teenagers. Chronic non-communicable disease risk factors have been diagnosed in 1,661,338 people, including 288,716 children and teenagers.