Regular check-ups with your doctor might just save your life.
As a minimum, you should book one annually.
That old laid back Australian adage of “she’ll be right mate” doesn’t wash when it comes to your health.
That’s because it overlooks one of the most important facets of healthcare – preventative health and maintenance.
Too many people still think they should visit their GP when they feel sick or have some other medical issue.
But the reality is that regular visits keep you healthy by identifying health risks before they manifest into serious issues.
That’s why as an absolute minimum, everyone should visit their GP for a regular check-up at least once a year.
Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus is credited with the observation “prevention is better than cure”.
It’s more than 500 years old but still rings ever true.
It strikes at the heart of the importance of regular check-ups.
These check-ups allow your doctor to build a reliable profile across a range of markers which they can use as a base line to track your health as you age.
It also allows your doctor to better know and understand your own specific health needs and requirements.
And it helps them deliver a more personalised approach to your healthcare.
When you visit your GP, they will ask you a range of questions about your general health and family history to assess your risk profile for certain diseases.
Speak openly and frankly with your doctor about your health to get the most out of every visit.
Talk not just about your physical health but also your mental and emotional wellbeing.
They are all interconnected and help GPs deliver a more holistic approach to treatment.
Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you have about any lingering issues.
Patient education and awareness is at the very front line of preventative care.
Health checks for adults
Regular check-ups can pick up signs of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers where early intervention is critical.
Your doctor will talk to you about your diet, weight, physical activity, alcohol intake and smoking.
Depending on your age, they may also suggest a complete blood test to check the health of all your vital organs, as well as some routine screenings.
It’s also a great time to ensure you are up to date with all appropriate vaccinations.
A basic regular check-up for a healthy adult is likely to include many of the following checks:
STDs – sexually active people with multiple partners should be tested annually for chlamydia via a simple urine test. Your doctor will advise whether any other tests are prudent.
Blood pressure – a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. It should be checked at least annually for anyone over 40, anyone with borderline high blood pressure or with a family history.
Cholesterol and triglycerides – similar to blood pressure, historic high readings or family history warrants close attention.
ECG – a non-invasive test that checks for abnormalities in your heart by measuring the electrical activity it generates.
Diabetes – known as the silent killer, type 2 diabetes is relatively easy to detect with a range of simple tests. Family history and lifestyle are key risk factors.
Bowel cancer – the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program sends free kits to adults aged 50-74 every two years. Talk to your doctor if you are younger than 50 with family history of the disease.
Eye disease – risk of glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration increases with age. Anyone aged 65 or already wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses should have their eyes checked annually.
Bone density – people aged 50 should consider a bone density test to determine their bone health and risk of developing or already having osteoporosis.
Health checks for women
Pregnancy – women planning to fall pregnant should have a general health check-up to investigate any potential health risks.
Breast cancer – regular screening is the best way to detect breast cancer which can strike at any age but is most prevalent in women over 60.
Cervical cancer – regular screening is important for early detection and recommended for women aged 25-74 who have ever been sexually active.
Health checks for men
Prostate cancer -men aged 50 should talk to their doctor about prostate cancer and the potential risks and benefits of a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test.
Book an appointment
Doctors can only do so much.
Ultimately, the onus is on you, the patient, to take ownership of your own health and health maintenance.
Regular check-ups are a great habit to adopt and also set a welcome example for the rest of your family.
They are the absolute best way to identify disease in its infancy as well as detect the onset and plan the management of chronic conditions.
Building a good relationship with your GP and booking regular check-ups is the first step to a long and healthy life.
Talk honestly with your doctor about how you feel and any concerns you have so that potential health problems can be detected and stopped in their tracks.
Your doctor can also talk to you about how you can live a healthier lifestyle and pick up any warning signs that need to be monitored.
Remember too, regular health checks should become more frequent with age.
Book an appointment here today at one of our AHA Clinics at either Seaford Road Day and Night Clinic or Seaford Meadows Day and Night Clinic.