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Wellness Check - Everything you MUST know for your annual health check

Posted by Jessica Hegg on

Wellness Checkup and Health Assessment: Why your annual health check is so important:

The number one reason is prevention. Preventative care is vital to avoiding serious diseases or conditions and early detection of any abnormal conditions. 

Prevention

Wellness examinations should be done at the very least, once a year. If you have conditions that need to be treated or watched intermittently, your doctor will decide how often you should go. But, since we’re speaking of the average individual, consistent yearly checkups will provide doctors with a way to spot any health issues early on. Checkups normally include tests and screenings or blood-work to check for cholesterol level, blood glucose levels and complete blood counts (CBC).

But, let’s go back and think about what happens as soon as the doctor walks into the office.

Vital signs are always done first. These include your heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. Then they check your weight. Doctors will determine your body mass index (BMI) to be sure you fall in the normal BMI range. If you are over the normal BMI for your height and weight, or if anything looks suspicious your doctor will provide appropriate treatment plans for you to follow between visits.

Should your doctor find something unusual; such that your blood pressure is abnormally high, you could be at risk for further health complications like heart disease.  In cases like this it’s best to monitor your blood pressure at home as well. You doctor will not be able to see you daily, and yearly wellness checks may not be frequent enough. This way you can chart your numbers, so the next time you visit the office, you’ll have a journal that includes blood pressure checks everyday. This not only provides more consistent results for your doctor to work with, but it also gives you an incentive to follow your treatment plan more closely.

At home digital blood pressure monitors are super convenient and the best way to go. They are so incredibly easy to use, and you and your doctor can work together as a team. It is important to understand why this type of home monitoring is one of the best preventative measures you can take.

With health assessments it is good to be aware that depending on your body and health conditions there are various checks the doctor may conduct during your visit. 

What to expect during your wellness checkup:

The first thing your doctor will do is check your vital signs. Vital signs include blood pressure check, pulse rate and respiration.

Blood Pressure Test:

Having a blood pressure test is the only way to detect hypertension (high blood pressure). High blood pressure can significantly increase your risk of heart failure or a heart attack, both which can be fatal. This is why it’s incredibly important to measure your blood pressure in between visits.

Laboratory Blood Work:

As with many diseases, lack of symptoms are common, which is another reason to schedule regular exams. Among many of the other results doctors look at, people with high cholesterol have no symptoms, and again won’t know until they are tested.

Blood Glucose Test:

Blood glucose levels, often referred to as sugar, enables your doctor to determine your risk of Diabetes. Diabetes is a disease, that if goes unchecked, can cause a plethora of other serious conditions. Because obesity is one of the primary causes of Type 2 Diabetes, your doctor will measure your weight, determine your BMI and discuss your lifestyle habits including diet and exercise routine, if any.

Women's Wellness Checks:

Women need to check for breast lumps daily and get yearly pap tests. Any woman over the age of 40 need to start mammogram screening yearly.

Mammogram is an x-ray screening that takes literally seconds, and is done to detect breast cancer. It’s suggested to get yearly mammogram screenings once per year after the age of 40.

Pap smears should be conducted annually to help detect signs of cervical cancer or abnormalities.

Men's Wellness Checks:

Men need to start getting screened for prostate problems, because as men age, the higher risk they are of developing prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer screening is recommended to detect early prostate cancer in men. The earlier it’s diagnosed, the better the chances it can be treated before metastasizing.

Other possible health assessments:

There are many more in-depth tests and screenings that can occur during a wellness checkup:

EKG is performed to determine a baseline which can show abnormalities regarding your heart. It is an easy, noninvasive test.

Colon Cancer Screening is performed to detect pre-cancer before any symptoms develop. Regular screenings should be done after the age of 50. If caught early enough, this type of cancer can be cured.

What you can do in the mean-time

Fortunately, A number of health screenings can be done from home. Both men and women should regularly check the skin on their entire body to examine any changes they may notice such as differences in the appearance of existing moles or freckles, or even a new spot that just shows up. These can be the warning signs of skin cancer. As stated above, be sure to adopt a balanced diet and incorporate an exercise regime regularly to fend off such conditions as diabetes or other diseases that are associated with being overweight. Should you find anything unusual, please see a doctor as soon as possible to catch any kind of condition before it becomes worse.

Medical groups, such as the American Medical Association,  advocates an annual health exam for seniors 55 and older. Younger adults will benefit from wellness checks at least every 3 years, unless a condition should arise. Wellness checkups are meant for healthy people to make sure they maintain their health. However, this is not written in stone. Many younger adults can have existing conditions that need monitoring.

It’s also very important for adults of all ages to monitor their weight as many younger adults suffer from obesity as well. An unhealthy weight can lead to a plethora of health complications that are better left avoided.  Digital bathroom scales are readily available and easy to use!

What you will get out of consistent health and wellness examinations:

  • Prevention
  • Established rapport with your primary care physician. Knowing your doctor will allow he/she to treat you more effectively.
  • Information on possible risk factors for certain diseases by testing certain health markers which are unique to every individual.
  • Help promoting and learning healthy preventative behavior
  • Comparisons that detect any changes from previous checkup

    Focus on prevention:

    Prevention is steps taken to prevent risk of disease. Prevention is broken down into 3 categories. Primary Prevention, Secondary Prevention and Tertiary Prevention.

    • Primary Prevention

    Includes vaccinations, such as immunizations against some flu strains and tetanus, as well as interventions that can stop disease processes from developing for those at risk.

    • Secondary Prevention 

    This is when your doctor will conduct regular screenings such as laboratory blood work, pap smears, and categorizing vital signs. Results of these screenings can be in the abnormal range which will prompt your doctor to inform you of steps that need to be taken to bring results back into the normal range and prevent certain diseases. If such interventions are not implemented, the likeliness of developing the disease increases significantly.

    • Tertiary prevention

    Typically this prevention is incorporated into the treatment plan when a certain disease already exists. For example, if one has heart disease, there are steps that can be taken so that the disease process is not exacerbated. Many people who’ve had a heart attack in the past or those who were diagnosed with heart disease could be subscribed certain medications, such as an aspirin a day. There are also blood pressure and cholesterol medications that can be used with patients who have a history of abnormal results in these areas. Supplements are often suggested by doctors to aid in prevention as well.

    Take Action:

    It’s vital to clear time from your schedule and make an appointment for a wellness checkup. An annual exam is necessary to keep on top of your medical condition even without pre-existing conditions. Several serious conditions can go undetected, because the person does not have any physical symptoms. The only way to find out is if you schedule yearly tests and screenings. Lifestyle changes along with medications or referrals to specialists may be a result of any abnormal findings.

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