Your Yearly Physical Check Up: A Checklist of Standard Procedures

The following is a list of the things you should insist that your doctor check for, when they should be checked, and how often. There may be other tests that may apply to your situation. Don't be afraid to talk to your doctor to see what tests you should have done.

Blood Pressure: Everyone should have this test done at least once a year. If it is high then it needs to be checked more often to assure that it is in control. This is a measurement of how much pressure your blood exerts on the walls of your arteries. If it's too high you are in greater risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. There are no warning signs of high blood pressure, so a check up is the only way to know.

Cholesterol: Everyone over the age of 20 should have this test done at least once a year. It is a measurement of how much cholesterol is floating in your blood stream, it does not measure plaque in your arteries. If heart disease or high cholesterol runs in your family you should have it checked every 6 months to make sure it is controlled.

Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG): Everyone over the age of 30 should have this done about every two years. It measures how well your heart is working and can detect abnormalities before something serious happens. If heart disease is in your family it should be checked more regularly.

Stethoscope Heart Check: This involves the doctor listening to your heart with a stethoscope. It can quickly tell them if there is a murmur (valves not closing properly), heart rate, and if blood flow is normal.

Colonoscopy: Of all the cancers this is the easiest to detect and to treat, if caught early. However, if you wait until you experience symptoms then it means the disease has progressed and your road to recovery is much more treacherous and full recovery is less likely. Although it sounds unpleasant, it's painless and very quick. If there is family history of colon cancer then it should be done around the age of 30 every 5 years. Anyone over 50 should have this test done every 5 years.

Diabetes: If this is in your family you should be tested every year. Early discovery is vital to reducing the silent damage that this disease does internally.

Blood Test: This is used to detect diabetes, cholesterol levels, thyroid abnormalities, blood cell count, etc. This is done at every yearly check up.

Urine Test: This can test for glucose levels, blood in urine which may suggest a kidney problem.

X-Rays: Not usually done unless there is a reason to. They can be used to detect lung cancer or tuberculosis.

Prostate Test are only for men (cause women don't have a prostate): All men over the age of 50 should talk to their doctors about the best test for them, as there are a few ways prostate problems can be tested for. But it should not be ignored. Prostate cancer is something that should be taken seriously.

PAP Smear: All women who are sexually active, or are over the age of 25, should have this test done at least every 2 years. As unpleasant as it may sound cervical cancer is even more unpleasant.

Mammogram: All women over 40 should have this test done every year. If breast cancer is in the family then checks should be done earlier, e.g. 30 years of age. A good idea is to combine this with a breast self-exam.

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