If you don’t already see a primary care physician for a yearly checkup, make 2013 the year you start.
“We’re all getting older and an annual physical is a great way to screen for some prevention,” says Brian Krachman, D.O., an internal medicine specialist at Piedmont Physicians Group. Thanks to modern technology, annual physicals can paint a better picture of a patient’s overall health.
What to expect
After the registration process, Dr. Krachman says you can expect to have your weight, vital signs, body mass index, head, ears, eyes, heart, lungs and reflexes checked during a physical. Many physicians also run lab work from blood and urine samples.
“For adults, we diagnose a lot of conditions by lab work,” he says.
Lab work will check blood count for anemia, sodium and potassium levels, liver and kidney function, and cholesterol numbers. A doctor may also order an electrocardiogram and urinalysis.
“Then we’ll decide on other tests or therapies based on [these results],” he says. “It’s good to figure out what’s going on in your insides. A lot of times, you don’t feel bad until it’s almost too late.”
Prevention is key
“You don’t want to wind up in the emergency room with a heart attack if it’s something preventable,” says Dr. Krachman. “Emergency rooms are great, but they can’t tell you what is going to happen for the rest of your life. That’s what a physical is designed to do.”
Talking with your doctor about family history of diseases is also a crucial part of a physical exam.
“Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke and cancers are all genetic diseases,” he explains. “We learn about these things as technology has gotten better and we can talk about prevention.”
The sooner you begin getting a yearly physical, the better.
“The idea is to come in when you’re younger, when you want prevention and to learn about what we can do to modify and identify risk [factors],” says Dr. Krachman.
A smart investment
“Annual physicals are a worthwhile investment,” he says. “It lets you know that you’re healthy and it doesn’t hurt. Some of us are aging well, some of us are aging with conditions.”
An annual physical will give you the information that you need to begin a discussion with your doctor about your health and a way to track changes as you get older.
“Coming in every year builds a relationship and from the relationship, you [and your doctor can] move forward,” says Dr. Krachman.
To find a physician who can give you an annual physical, visit Piedmont Physicians Group.