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The Yearly Medical Checkup

February 28, 2014

PhysicalI actively encourage all of my patients to undergo a wellness visit every year. An annual “physical” is much more than a mere checkup. It’s a vital “check-in”, enabling a doctor to set each patient’s healthy benchmark. A clear understanding of (an individual’s) baseline will steer the recovery plan when illness falls, and customize care. After all, wellness starts with “we”.

A yearly check-in provides the opportunity to update patient and family medical history. Your family doctor is your personal health librarian and must periodically review your medications, evaluate your lifestyle choices, and stratify your risk for disease. A “physical” is not meant to be a battery of tests, because not everything that can be counted counts. It is not intended to do things to you,  but … for you.

So, what can you expect?

  • Forms and an interview to update your medical history

  • Blood Pressure measurement

  • Height, weight, and BMI (Body-Mass Index calculation)

  • A physical examination

  • Screening tests. You can view personalized recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Taskforce based on age and sex at http://healthfinder.gov/myhealthfinder/

  • Blood tests. Specific tests will hinge on your personal and family history, as well as the findings of a physical examination.

  • Vaccinations to preserve health (e.g. against flu, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, pneumonia, shingles, HPV, hepatitis A and B). A shot in the arm will lower your chance of suffering from one of these, and help protect our community.

It is said that–in ancient China–doctors were paid to keep patients healthy. Chinese doctors would have to forfeit their salaries when their patients fell ill, until health was restored. I think that modern medicine can learn a lot from the ancients. So next time you pass my clinic, feel free to “check in” or book a checkup.

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