Modern medicine has come a long way. Americans are living longer thanks in part to advances in diagnosing, treating, and managing disease and chronic conditions. Still, the best way to maintain health is to prevent problems before they start.
That’s where annual wellness exams come in. These yearly checkups are a vital part of preventive health care. And the beginning of the year is an ideal time to keep your health on track.
The doctors, physicians assistants, and the rest of our team here at WestMed Family Healthcare encourage you to schedule and attend annual wellness exams as a cornerstone of staying healthy. We’ve put together this guide to highlight the importance of yearly wellness checkups.
What is an annual wellness visit?
The yearly wellness exam is an opportunity for you and your provider to discuss your health history and address any health concerns you may have. It also enables us to review existing health problems to ensure you’re managing them appropriately, assess your risk of developing diseases, and provide guidance on how to prevent them.
We conduct tests, such as a complete blood analysis, to check your health status. These tests enable us to identify immediate health threats that you may have been unaware of. Depending on your health history, we may recommend certain screening tests. The goal of screenings is to detect diseases early when they’re easier to manage and successful treatment is more likely.
Exams are part of the annual wellness visit
Wellness exams are a valuable way to detect potential problems early. Here are some common screening checks:
High blood pressure (hypertension) often causes no symptoms as it silently damages your body, making it important to know your numbers. A blood pressure check is a regular part of the annual wellness exam. Diet and lifestyle changes are often enough to keep blood pressure in check when detected early.
The American Heart Association released new guidelines for treating high blood pressure with the goal of treating it as early as possible. Under the new guidelines, we may recommend that you take action if your blood pressure is consistently at or above 130/80 mg Hg. The goal for a healthy blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg.
Elevated cholesterol, medically known as dyslipidemia, also tends to cause no symptoms until significant damage occurs. Too much total cholesterol or elevated levels of harmful forms of cholesterol, along with too little good cholesterol, is a recipe for heart disease. Monitoring your cholesterol is one component of a good heart health care plan.
As with hypertension, your chances of bringing your cholesterol into a healthy range are higher when we detect dyslipidemia early so that you can make immediate changes. We recommend that you aim for a total cholesterol level less than 200 mg/dL. Levels of LDL, a harmful form of cholesterol should be below 100 mg/dL, and you want HDL, a good form of cholesterol, to stay above 40 mg/dL.
A bone density test is key for tracking and diagnosing osteoporosis. Bone density decreases with age, and women who have gone through menopause are more at risk of developing osteoporosis. We recommend that our patients age 65 and over add a bone density test to their annual wellness exam.
Women should start having Pap tests at the age of 21. As part of the annual wellness exam, a Pap smear detects changes to cervical cells that have the potential to go on to develop into cervical cancer.
Getting regular Pap smears enables us to detect potential harmful changes and take action to reduce your risk of cervical cancer.
Diabetes affects more than 30 million people in the United States. Obesity, high blood pressure, and unhealthy cholesterol levels are major risk factors. It’s common to have your average blood sugar level measured at the annual wellness exam. The test calculates the average level of your blood sugar over the past 90 days.
Too much blood sugar is highly damaging to your body, making it a top priority to get ahead of diabetes before it starts. Detecting rising blood sugar before the condition evolves into diabetes enables you to adopt healthier habits that can stop blood sugar problems in their tracks.
The annual wellness visit gives us a complete picture of your health and what you need to maintain or improve your health. The start of the year is a perfect time to come in for an annual wellness visit.
Call our team to schedule your annual wellness visit with one of our providers at our Westminster, Colorado, office or request an appointment using our online scheduling tool. Checkups are vital to maintaining your overall health.