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Medical Check-Up

Regular checkups – for your health and wealth! 

How Often Do You Need Regular Checkups to Prevent Diseases and Conditions?

There are three levels of preventive care: All three of these levels of preventive care are important components of disease prevention and health maintenance.

  • Primary prevention includes interventions that can completely prevent the disease in people at risk. One example is immunizations against certain vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and tetanus.
  • Secondary prevention identifies established risk factors for disease. Checking blood pressure, cholesterol, and performing Pap tests for cervical cancer screening are examples in which identifying abnormal results can lead to effective interventions that may prevent serious disease from developing.
  • Tertiary prevention is a process for optimizing health once a disease has been diagnosed. An example is a management plan to prevent a person from having another heart attack once they already have established heart disease.

Preventive interventions your doctor may use at your checkup are

Screening tests are useful in the early detection of disease. Some examples include the physical exam, blood pressure reading, Pap test, and laboratory tests.

Immunizations include shots such as a tetanus booster, flu shots, and other vaccinations.

Medication prescription may be as simple as suggesting that a person with heart disease risk factors take an aspirin daily.

Counseling for health promotion either before or during a health problem may decrease the burden of suffering or prevent the disease. Examples of counseling topics include smoking cessation, safe sex practices, and pre-pregnancy advice on folic acid supplements.

The number of physical examination maneuvers your doctor performs and tests that are ordered will vary depending on your gender, age, and information obtained from the clinical history.

The physical exam is most useful in identifying disease in people who already have symptoms, but it is often of little use as a screening test in people who have no complaints.

How Often Should Different Age Groups Have Disease Screening and Prevention Tests?

Preventive services for ages 19-39

  • Schedule of visits
  • Males: Every five years
  • Females: Every three to five years
  • Screening
  • A thorough individual risk assessment
  • Height and weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Clinical breast examination (every three years starting at age 20)
  • Blood cholesterol levels
  • Pap smear (at least every three years after three consecutive annual normal results)
  • In high-risk groups, sexually transmitted disease testing
  • Counseling and education
  • Limit dietary fat, general nutrition advice
  • Folic acid supplementation in women of childbearing age
  • Tobacco cessation
  • Advance directives
  • Drinking and driving
  • Safety belts
  • Contraception and safe sexual practice
  • Physical activity
  • Immunization
  • Tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years
  • Varicella vaccine (if you have a negative test and no history of chickenpox infection)
  • Rubella vaccine (if you have a negative test)
  • Hepatitis B vaccine (if not done previously)
  • Influenza vaccine (optional, depends on personal preference)
  • High-risk groups offered pneumococcal vaccine, influenza vaccine, and hepatitis A vaccine (Ask your doctor if you qualify for any of these.)

Preventive services for ages 40-64

  • Schedule of visits
  • Males: Every five years
  • Females: Every three to five years
  • Screening
  • Individual risk assessment
  • Height and weight
  • Clinical breast exam yearly
  • Blood cholesterol
  • Pap smear (up to every three years after three consecutive annual normal results)
  • Mammogram (optional 40-49, yearly 50-75)
  • Colon cancer screening
  • In high-risk groups, sexually transmitted disease testing and diabetes screening
  • Counseling and education
  • Limit dietary fat, good nutrition advice
  • Tobacco cessation
  • Advance directives
  • Drinking and driving
  • Safety belts
  • Postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy
  • Physical activity
  • Immunizations
  • Tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years
  • Influenza vaccine (optional)
  • In high-risk groups hepatitis A and B vaccines, pneumococcal vaccine, influenza vaccine, rubella vaccine, and Lyme disease vaccine may be recommended
  • Preventive medications
  • Daily aspirin for people with risk factors for or established heart disease

Preventive services for ages 65 and over

  • Schedule of visits
  • Every one to two years
  • Screening
  • Individual risk assessment
  • Review of medications
  • Height and weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Clinical breast examination
  • Blood cholesterol
  • Colon cancer screening
  • Pap smear (may be performed at the mutual consent of the woman and doctor after age 65)
  • Annual mammogram until age 75
  • Vision testing after age 74
  • Hearing testing after age 74
  • Counseling and education
  • Limit dietary fat, good nutrition advice
  • Drinking and driving
  • Safety belts
  • Postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy
  • Physical activity
  • Immunization
  • Tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years
  • Annual influenza vaccine
  • Pneumococcal vaccine
  • In high-risk groups, hepatitis A and B vaccines
  • Preventive medication
  • Daily aspirin in people with risk factors for or established heart disease

How Often Should People Who Are At Risk for Complications From Other Diseases or Conditions Have a Medical Checkup?

The recommendations of the task force are for healthy people. Those with specific diseases or who are at increased risk for certain health problems may be required to see their doctor more often and may undergo certain other tests.

You and your doctor should mutually decide on a checkup plan that is suitable for your particular situation.

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