IT felt like being slotted into a sock, or the middle of a doughnut, and had it not been for the panic button I’d have fought my way out in a chispa.
But as the MRI scanner whirred into life, I lifted my COVID mask up over my eyes and started to count my breaths and meditate.
I was in for a 90-minute screening and once cocooned in my own darkness I soon forgot the constraints of the narrow tube I had been strapped into.
I had chosen a full medical check at Executive Health, in Marbella, overseen by leading heart scientist Dr Henrik Reinhard, 45, as a new year resolution to keep closer tabs on my health now I’m in my 50s.
The annual screening package involves a detailed exam of the abdomen, pelvis and thorax, as well as a clinical evaluation of the heart and lungs and an analysis of blood, urine and stools.
The MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine was the highlight, using a powerful magnetic field combined with specific radio frequencies to create detailed images of my internal body structures.
Enabling Dr Henrik to take a close look at my bones, tissues and organs, he would be able to detect any abnormalities, such as cancerous growths, inflammation, infections and more.
While the advancement of heart disease follows a more predictable pattern, requiring screening every five years, cardiologist Henrik advises yearly screening for cancer.
But the first test was actually managing to stay inside the MRI machine.
“It’s true quite a few people can’t handle the claustrophobia,” admitted Henrik. “Particularly men, so you did well to fight it off.”
Ordeal over, I stepped into his office for an immediate consultation, in which he reported he could see no obvious signs of disease.
A few days later I was back to get the full results and see some, quite frankly, fascinating scans and images.
While it looked like a haunted face from a ghost train, my main chest and heart scan was apparently ‘pretty healthy’ and Henrik gave me a 3% chance of heart issues over the next decade but based on current risk factors measured my lifetime was over 50%.
“That’s 10% higher than the average risk in Western countries, but you can get that down pretty easily,” he explained, insisting it could get down as low as 8%.
The best way to do this was with diet, cutting down meat to once a week and eating more good fats, which was basically fish and nuts, as well as a lot more vegetables, particularly kale, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower.
While my blood and urine tests were normal and my kidney and liver function were fine, my blood sugar levels were elevated and I would have to bring them down to avoid developing diabetes.
I also needed to lose a bit of weight, which was no surprise after the festive period, when I had put on nearly three kilos.
Last, but not least, he spotted I had a small 2cm opening of a hernia in my left groin, which had indeed been giving me a little bit of grief over the last few months.
But he said this could be improved by losing some weight and could easily get better on its own.
The Danish doctor Henrik Reinhard and team spent two years researching the best place to open his Executive Health clinic with its MRI scanner and other high tech machines.
Costing over 1m euros to buy and over 300,000 euros to install he needed to find the perfect location.
“We tried and paid for “check up” at five clinics on the Costa del Sol and wasn’t exactly impressed with the results,” he explains. “I knew we could do a lot better.”
In the end the father-of-three was able to rent a floor of the Helicopteros Sanitarios clinic in Puerto Banus, which ticked many boxes for its central location and large membership of potential clients.
Going into partnership with a Swedish businessman, the clinic opened in April 2017.
and he and his wife Rikke have now more than settled on the Costa del Sol, having previously lived in Australia and Trondheim in north Norway, and are expecting 2021 to be a busy year.
“We are working really hard to give the best possible service and finding the clients very receptive,” he adds. “In particular because with all the COVID issues I am sure that many Olive Press readers have not been getting their normal health checks at the local hospital. We can do the same and a lot more in a far safer environment.”
Contact Executive Health at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.executivehealth.es
SPECIAL OLIVE PRESS OFFER
In a special new year’s deal for Olive Press readers, the Executive Health clinic is offering a full annual medical check up with 4 MRI scans for just 895 euros, or over half the normal price.
The significant annual health check needs to be booked in advance and depends on availability.