More than the Annual Physical Exam: More Tests to Run

a doctor and patient

The benefits of getting an annual physical exam are many. For one, it can help you stay healthy by catching health problems early on. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular check-ups can help you avoid diseases or find them early enough to treat them successfully.
Another benefit of getting a physical is that it gives your doctor a chance to get to know you and your medical history. It is essential because it helps your doctor make better decisions about your care. For example, if you have a family history of heart disease, your doctor may order screenings for heart disease even if you don’t have any symptoms.

Finally, getting a yearly physical can help save you money in the long run. It’s often less expensive to treat a health problem when caught early than it is to wait until the situation becomes more serious. The CDC estimates that routine check-ups could save Americans up to $2 billion annually in avoided health care costs.

However, there will be a few instances where they will have to go beyond the traditional physical exam. Those procedures are vital when a person has to deal with several complications unseen in the These tests will help gauge your risk for developing certain diseases and conditions.

Cholesterol Level Testing

High cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. A physical usually includes a fasting lipid panel to test for cholesterol. The test measures four fats in your blood:

  • Total cholesterol
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

A fasting lipid panel is necessary once every five years if your results are essential. But if your results are borderline or high, you may need the test more often.

Your doctor may also recommend a coronary calcium scan to check for plaque buildup in your arteries. Plaque happens because of fat, cholesterol, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque can harden and narrow your arteries, leading to heart disease.

Heart Health Tests

A symbol of health tests for the heart

A coronary calcium scan is a noninvasive test that uses CT technology to produce images of your heart. The test determines your risk of a heart attack in the next ten years.

If you have risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol or diabetes, your doctor may recommend a stress test. A stress test helps assess how well your heart functions under stress, such as during exercise.

There are two stress tests: an exercise stress test and a nuclear stress test. An exercise stress test happens on a treadmill or bike. A nuclear stress test uses a radioactive tracer to show blood flow to your heart muscle during rest and stress.

Your doctor may also recommend a cardiac CT scan, a noninvasive test that uses X-ray technology to produce three-dimensional images of your heart. A cardiac CT scan can check for plaque buildup in your arteries or assess your risk of a heart attack.

A cardiac MRI is another noninvasive test that produces detailed images of your heart and can be used to evaluate the function of your heart muscle.

Digestive System Testing

Endoscopy is a procedure that uses a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera lens at the end (called an endoscope) to view the inside of the body. The endoscope is passed through the mouth and throat and into the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine.

Endoscopy can screen for and diagnose digestive system conditions, such as the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine cancer. It can also diagnose conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Screening for cancer using endoscopy service procedures is essential because it can detect cancer early when it is more likely to be treated successfully.

If you have risk factors for digestive system cancer, such as a family history of cancer or polyps in the colon, your doctor may recommend regular screening using endoscopy.

The American Cancer Society recommends that people ages 50 to 75 get screened for colorectal cancer using a colonoscopy test every ten years. A colonoscopy is an exam of the entire large intestine using a colonoscope.

People with a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors may need to be screened more often.

Final Thoughts

The annual physical exam is an essential part of preventive health care. But it’s not the only test you need to stay healthy. Be sure to talk to your doctor about which trials are proper for you and how often you need them.

It’s also important to remember that the annual physical exam is just one part of maintaining good health. It would help if you also ate a healthy diet, exercised regularly, and got adequate sleep. You can enjoy a long, healthy life by taking care of yourself and getting the recommended screenings and immunizations.

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