Need For Routine
Preventative Health Measures

Need For Routine Preventative Health Measures: Overview

Millions of people continue to ignore their health because they do not have access to health care or can not afford it, because they do not practice healthy lifestyles, or because they do not take the time to visit their physician for regular check-ups.

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Women visit the doctor an estimated 30% more often than men.  According to a recent health survey, one-third of American men have not had a checkup in the past year and nine million men have not visit a doctor in five years.

Most people know to change the oil on their car every 3,000 miles, or to worm their pets regularly.  Why, then, is it that many don't know (or refuse to believe) that regular check-ups can save lives, even when no symptoms are present? A 1990 AMA study found that the main reasons men don't go to the doctor are fear, denial, embarrassment and threatened masculinity.  Admitting pain or other health problems is perceived as a sign of weakness.

As well as remaining informed of your current obvious symptoms and overall state of wellness, it is important to monitor family history, personal history, fitness status, nutrition status, stress levels and lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking.  Important preventable risk factors can be identified through monitoring various blood components such as albumin, alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin/total, blood urea nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus, cholesterol, coronary risk factor, creatinine, GGT/LDH, globulin and glucose.

Bearing in mind expense or other factors, every individual should make up his or her mind as to what is necessary after consulting with a doctor.  Some types of regular testing may not be strictly necessary in certain cases, such as regular cholesterol monitoring for those on a low-cholesterol diet.  On the other hand, an individual's lifestyle choices may give rise to extra testing requirements, such as B12 levels in those who consume no animal products.

For those who already have unresolved health issues, further testing may be required, such as prostate-specific antigen, complete blood count, thyroid, colon cancer, or H.  pylori.

Treatment and Prevention

Recommended Regular Screenings (See below for further recommendations):

  • General physical exam – Every three years from 20 to 39, every two years from 40 to 49 and every year past the age of 50.
  • Tetanus booster – The series of combined diphtheria-tetanus toxoids (Td) should be completed for adults who have not received the primary series, and all adults should receive Td boosters every 10 years.
  • Influenza vaccine – Annually after the age of 65, or earlier if at high risk.
  • Pneumococcal vaccine – Recommended for all immunocompetent individuals who are age 65 years and older or otherwise at increased risk for pneumococcal disease.
  • Bone density measurement – The U.S.  Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women aged 65 and older be screened routinely for osteoporosis.  The USPSTF recommends that routine screening begin at age 60 for women at increased risk for osteoporotic fractures.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Need For Routine Preventative Health Measures:

Lab Values - Cells

Not having had recent lab tests

Regular checkups – which include lab testing – are very important.

Symptoms - Head - Eyes/Ocular

Being somewhat/being very farsighted or being somewhat/being very nearsighted

If you wear corrective lenses or are over 50, eye exams should be performed every two years or so.

Conditions that suggest Need For Routine Preventative Health Measures:

Circulation

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Those with high blood pressure should have a yearly eye examination.

Organ Health

Glaucoma

Regular eye tests are recommended if you are over 40 years old.  The test for glaucoma must be performed by a trained person, either an ophthalmologist or a trained ophthalmic optician.  The test for glaucoma may not be a part of the standard eye test given and should be requested.

Those diagnosed with glaucoma will need to attend regular follow-up appointments during which any perceived loss of vision must be reported.  Those who have had an episode of acute glaucoma should be aware of the early symptoms and consult a doctor immediately should they re-occur.

Diabetes Type II

Persons with diabetes must take extra care to be sure to have thorough, periodic eye exams (at least yearly), especially if early signs of visual impairment are noticed.  Anyone experiencing a sudden loss of vision, decrease in vision or visual field, flashes of light, or floating spots should contact their eye doctor right away.

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Risk factors for Need For Routine Preventative Health Measures:

Family History

Cancer in family members

Regular screening is highly recommended if your family has a history of cancer.

Diabetes in family members

If you have a family history of high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, diabetes or stroke, you should have your blood pressure tested annually.

Stroke in family members

If you have a family history of high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, diabetes or stroke, you should have your blood pressure tested annually.

Heart attack(s) in father

If you have a family history of high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, diabetes or stroke, you should have your blood pressure tested annually.

Hypertension in parents

If you have a family history of high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, diabetes or stroke, you should have your blood pressure tested annually.

Macular degeneration in family

Those with diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of vision problems should have a yearly eye examination.

Glaucoma in close family members

Those with diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of vision problems should have a yearly eye examination.

Lab Values - Chemistries

Unknown total cholesterol level

If you don't know your cholesterol levels, or haven't had them checked within the past five years, you should consider this simple test.

Personal Background

Counter-indicators
Counter-indicators

Symptoms - Head - Eyes/Ocular

Having normal uncorrected vision

If your vision doesn't require correction and you are under 50, an eye exam (including screening for glaucoma and visual acuity) should be performed every three to five years.

Symptoms - Reproductive - General

Recommendations for Need For Routine Preventative Health Measures:

Action

Visiting An Eye Doctor

Regular visits to the optician are recommended in order to detect early signs of visual impairment.

Dental

Adequate Dental Care

A dental exam (cleaning and check-up) is recommended at least once a year.

Lab Tests/Rule-Outs

Test for Cardiac Risk Factors

An electrocardiogram is recommended every three to five years after the age of 50, or after 30 if at high risk for heart attacks.

Cholesterol Level Check

If you don't know your cholesterol levels, or haven't had them checked within the past five years, this is highly recommended.

Blood Pressure Check

Before the age of 50, blood pressure should be taken every two to five years.  At age 50 and older, it should be tested annually.  If you have a family history of high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, diabetes or stroke, you should be tested annually.

General Cancer Screening

People aged 20 to 39 should have a cancer checkup every three years; those aged 40 and over should have one yearly.

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