Why get an annual medical checkup?

Physician Assistant Emily Goranson with patient for annual exam

If you feel great, you’re healthy, and you’ve never been diagnosed with a chronic illness or experienced a major medical issue, do you really need to make time for an annual check-up?

The answer is a definitive YES. Like children and teens, adults of all ages can benefit from having regular physical exams, including men and women who are physically fit and have no significant health complaints.

Our Riverwood primary care team understands that good health is a daily practice that requires awareness, guidance, and dedication to maintain.  One of the best ways to protect your health is to have a comprehensive physical exam every year.

Here are five good reasons to schedule your next preventive check-up today:

Establish your personal health baseline.
One of the most important benefits of having regular physicals is learning about your current health and potential risk factors for disease.

Starting with your very first exam and continuing year after year, your annual check-ups help establish a personal “health baseline” that helps your healthcare provider spot unhealthy trends early on, before they become serious risk factors for chronic illness.

Your blood pressure is one key health indicator that your provider monitors and measures over time. By keeping a watch on changes that could signal a need for lifestyle changes, medication, or both, there’s an opportunity to reverse the condition, such as hypertension/high blood pressure, or prevent it from progressing.

Keep up on your preventive screenings.
When it comes to protecting and preserving your long-term health, preventive care is vital.

As the cornerstone of preventive care, your annual physical is geared to your specific needs based on your current health, medical history, lifestyle, and the guidelines for your gender and age group.

You may be due for certain vaccinations, such as a tetanus booster shot every 10 years, shingles vaccine, or an annual flu shot.  Or for a fasting blood test that measures your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Routine preventive screenings for women include Pap smear and HPV tests, breast cancer screening (breast exam and mammogram), colon cancer screening, and bone density tests; preventive screenings for men include colon and prostate cancer screenings. American Cancer Society guidelines now recommend that average-risk individuals get screened for colorectal cancer beginning at age 45.

Learn about your chronic disease risk
Chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and lung disease are leading causes of death and disability for men and women alike.

Having an annual physical allows your healthcare provider to:

    • Review your current risk factors for chronic diseases;
    • Assess health changes that have developed since your last annual exam;
    • Discuss lifestyle choices that contribute to your disease risk; and
    • Give you concrete strategies to help eliminate or manage your risk.

When it comes to avoiding a preventable chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease, your annual check-up with your primary care doctor is one of the best pre-emptive tools you have.

Review and renew prescription medications.
It is also important to review your medications regularly with your primary care provider, checking that you are taking the most appropriate medicines as prescribed. This is also an opportunity to ask any questions or raise any concerns you have about your medicines and to get prescriptions renewed.

Build a solid relationship with your primary care provider.
Think of an annual exam as a personal wellness investment. One-on-one time with your provider when you’re not sick or in the middle of a medical problem provides the perfect opportunity to connect, establish rapport and trust, and discuss your personal healthcare preferences.

Understanding your health issues and getting the right care can be complex. Having a primary care provider who knows you well is like having a professional guide to help you optimize your health. When serious health issues arise, having a provider who knows you and your health is invaluable.

Call Riverwood at 218-927-2157 to schedule your next physical exam.