We visit our doctors every now and then for various reasons. Some of us visit when we experience a new problem to the existing disease or when we face new and inexplicable health concerns and some visit as per the requirement of follow-up care for a chronic illness. There are very few who see their doctors regularly for a routine check-up in order to keep their health in top order.
However, the concept of regular checkups for healthy individuals is growing day by day. Many employers are setting up annual health check-up mandate for their employees. The utility of screening for diseases when someone is apparently healthy is being appreciated more than ever before.
Good health is not a summer or winter resolution but a lifetime process, something that you need to do for the rest of your life. Meeting your doctor from time to time is one of the many aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Here are a few health check-ups that you must take in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle
Health check-ups for your heart
Have your blood pressure checked every two years if it is normal, you are aged under 40 years, and there is no family history of high blood pressure. Have it checked yearly if you are over 40, your blood pressure is on the high side, or you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack. Be advised by your doctor.
Check cholesterol levels and blood triglycerides, among other things. High levels may indicate an increased risk of various health problems, including heart disease. If you are over 45, you should have these blood tests once every five years. If you are at high risk of heart disease and have a family history, you should be tested every year from the age of 40.
Being overweight is a significant risk factor for many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement every two years. If you are at a higher risk, you should have your weight checked more frequently.
Health check-up for diabetes
Tests for diabetes include a fasting blood sugar level test, which measures the amount of glucose in the blood after fasting (not eating for an amount of time). It is usually done before you have breakfast. Depending on your risk level, you will need to be tested annually or once every three years.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- family history of diabetes
- pre-diabetes (slightly elevated blood glucose levels)
- age over 45 years
- overweight or obesity
- high blood pressure
- high blood cholesterol
- inactive lifestyle
- history of angina (chest pain), heart attack or stroke
- belonging to certain ethnic groups, including Pacific Islander and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples
- in women, a history of gestational diabetes in pregnancy
- in women, a history of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Health check-up for bowel cancer
Bowel cancer screening doesn’t diagnose cancer, but it can detect potential problems before a person has symptoms. Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the sooner it is detected, the easier it is to treat and the better your chance of surviving it.
The Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) uses chemicals to check a bowel motion sample for blood, which may be a sign of bowel cancer. If you are over 50, you should have this test once every two years, or after you turn 40 if you have a family history.
People at high risk of bowel cancer may need a colonoscopy every five years. During this test, the doctor inserts a slender instrument called a colonoscope through the anus to visually check the rectum and large bowel for abnormalities.
Health check-up for breast cancer
Around 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. It’s recommended that women beginning at age 20 should get a breast examination done with a doctor and start with annual mammograms from the age of 45.
An x-ray of each breast, called a mammogram, is taken. Each breast is placed in turn on the x-ray machine and is gently but firmly compressed with a clear plate. The compression only lasts a few seconds, but some women do find this slightly uncomfortable.
Most experts agree regular breast screening is beneficial in picking up breast cancer early and the earlier it is found the better the chances of surviving it. The main risk is that breast screening sometimes picks up cancers that may not have caused any symptoms or become life-threatening.
Health check-up for cervical cancer
A Pap smear or Pap test is a screening procedure for cervical cancer. It tests for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on your cervix. It is recommended that women get regular Pap smears every three years starting at age 21.
During this procedure, cells from your cervix are gently scraped away and examined for abnormal growth. The procedure is done at your doctor’s office. It may be mildly uncomfortable, but doesn’t usually cause any long-term pain.
Health check-up for Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
AAA screening is a way of checking if there’s a bulge or swelling in the aorta. screening for AAA is recommended to men in their 65th year. AAA screening is suggested to men because aneurysms are more common in men.
The screening test involves an ultrasound on your stomach. It is very quick, painless and reliable.
The aorta is the main blood vessel in the body. It pumps blood from the heart around the body. If swelling in the aorta is left to get bigger it could burst, causing life-threatening bleeds inside the stomach. An abdominal aortic aneurysm won’t have often had symptoms so the test can pick up an AAA before it bursts.
Health check-up for eye conditions
Eyesight tends to deteriorate with age. Serious eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration are more common with age.
People older than 65 years should have an annual examination. However, more frequent testing may be recommended for those with certain risk factors, such as:
- a family history of eye disease
- a personal history of eye disease or injury
- certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes
- taking certain medications.
If you already wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, you should have your eyes tested every year. Adults who do not wear prescription glasses or contact lenses should have an eye test every two years.
Health check-up for your bones
Advancing age is a significant risk factor for osteoporosis in both men and women. A bone density test helps to determine the health of your bones. Generally speaking, people over the age of 50 should be assessed for the need to have a bone density test.