Published: Nov. 19, 2012
Updated: Nov. 19, 2012
Here’s What You Need to Know About Your Annual Physical
The annual physical came under fire recently when a medical study suggested it was no longer necessary. The news, combined with recent changes in cancer screening guidelines, left many people confused. How often should you see your doctor for checkups to stay healthy?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, says Heidi Doyle, PA-C, a physician assistant with North Hills Internal Medicine, a Duke Primary Care clinic. “Regular check-ups are important to maintain a relationship with your doctor and to receive individualized counseling based on your family health history and your lifestyle.”
Age and disease risk are the primary factors influencing when to get a physical, says Doyle. With this in mind, here’s what you need to know:
Different recommendations about check-up frequency apply to individuals who take medication and have chronic disease risk factors. In that case, annual physicals may be recommended since blood tests may be necessary and treatments may need to be changed.
Being overweight also influences how often you get a physical because it increases one’s risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. “For these individuals, the annual physical is an opportunity to reinforce healthy lifestyle choices,” Doyle says.
“The key is for each person to be responsible for their own health,” says Doyle. A person with diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or one who is simply more susceptible to those conditions, can make lifestyle changes that are much more impactful than any pill I can prescribe.”
Everyone can make the most of their physical if they heed this advice, says Doyle: