You made an appointment to get your annual physical done and over with, but do you really need to go? For many of us, skipping or not scheduling these tests can become a habit that gets worse over time. Do I really need to go to another exam even though I feel healthy? The short answer is: Yes, you definitely do. No, your doctor isn’t trying to waste your time; they know that early diagnosis and treatment gives you the best chance at addressing the issue before it worsens.
Essential Health Exam Checklist
Many people tend to ignore the aches and pains that come with getting older; however, have you thought they may be trying to tell you something? It’s important not to discount signs or symptoms just because you’re aging. Annual exams and screenings can help detect potential risks that could become life-threatening. Preventative care is the best kind of healthcare. Start checking these off your list before the end of the year.
- Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) – An ABI test is used to determine if you are at risk of developing Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). PAD refers to a condition that primarily affects men over the age of 50 (although women and younger people often get it too). This occurs when an artery within the leg becomes narrowed due to plaque buildup. People who currently or formerly have smoked, have high blood pressure or cholesterol, are obese or diabetic, have a history of vascular disease, or are of African-American descent. If you fall in any of the categories above, it is crucial to get an ABI test as soon as possible. Risk factors of PAD include: stroke, amputation, limited mobility, and even amputation.
- Cholesterol and blood pressure check – Both cholesterol and blood pressure levels tend to increase as you age; therefore, it’s important to get your levels checked. These checks need to be performed at your annual checkup. If you have a history of increased levels for either category, you may need to get them done more frequently. During a cholesterol check, a small sample of blood is taken where the HDL, LDL, and triglycerides are measured. During a blood pressure check, your doctor will be measuring your systolic and diastolic levels. If you’re over the age of 60 and are a man, your levels should be around 135/88.
- Colon cancer screening – All men over the age of 45 should get screened for colorectal cancer by age 50. People with a family history of colorectal cancer should get a colonoscopy even sooner. A colonscopy can detect pre-cancerous growths as well, which could decrease your risk of colon or rectal cancer. It is recommended to get a colonscopy every 10 years. If polyps are formed during the exam, you may have to go more frequently.
- Diabetes screening – You should be screened for diabetes before the age of 45. A diabetes, blood sugar test is performed by analyzing either a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) or A1C blood test. 1 in 3 people with diabetes will develop Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). It’s important to get screened for both.
- Prostate cancer screening – It is recommended that men should be screened for prostate cancer after turning 50; however, if you have a family history of this condition, you should get tested before 40. A digital rectal examination (DRE) or a PSA blood test may be used to screen for prostate cancer.
- Vitamin D test – This text monitors for potential bone disorders. The most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. Your levels should be around 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL is considered good levels for healthy people.
- Dermatology check – Older men are twice as likely to develop melanoma as women of the same age. In addition, men are also two to three times more likely to get non-melanoma basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers than women are. It’s incredibly important to get checked for skin cancer as often as possible. If you have had extensive sun exposure, bad sunburns, abnormal or new moles, skin discoloration, or a family history of skin disease, you should get checked as frequently as possible. In its’ early stages, skin cancer may be able to be removed before it becomes worse.
- Testicular cancer screening – Even though testicular cancer typically affects men between the ages of 20 to 54, we believe it’s an important test to mention in case you have not already had one completed. Doctors recommend regular self-exams as well similar to those for breast cancer.
- Glaucoma screening – The purpose of a glaucoma screening exams is to detect people with early stage of this condition. Early diagnosis and treatment can often reduce the risk of vision loss. It is recommended to get checked every 6-12 months if you’re over the age of 65. It is recommended to schedule an eye exam every one to two years. If you have diabetes, you should have an eye exam every year.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening – You are more at risk if you have smoked and are between the ages of 60-80. Men are at an increased risk, so it’s important to ask your doctor about how many times you need to schedule one. The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to the pelvic, abdomen, and legs. An abdominal aortic aneurysm could occur if the aorta becomes very large or balloons out. If you have smoked or are currently a smoker, have high blood pressure, or have a family history of this condition, you should get screened more frequently.
Why Are Annual Health Exams Important?
It can be easy to ignore your symptoms or put off annual physicals. Many of us tend to make excuses or just completely forget if we don’t make it a part of our routine. Skipping annual physicals can be extremely detrimental to your health. Early diagnosis and treatment is important to prevent serious health concerns. Especially as you age, you need to take good care of your body and measure crucial health levels like blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. These can be good indicators to notify you and your doctor that you may have underlying condition.
Start by clicking here to schedule an ABI test online today or giving us a call at 888-773-2193.