Top three reasons to get a physical exam this year

Image credit: CDC Public Health Library

Men are especially notorious for ignoring their health; especially at the holidays. But women shouldn't postpone having an annual physical either. Scheduling a health exam can give you and your family peace of mind. Also, most insurance co-payments will go up in 2013, making getting a health check-up now a good budgetary decision.

Disease prevention  
According to University of Alabama physician and Professor of Internal Medicine, Stephen Russell, M.D, getting a physical helps with prevention, which in turn saves cost in the long run.

“We think it’s important for all people in their twenties to establish relationships with a primary care physician, because that’s when we can get baseline health information, discuss family health history, talk about lifestyle changes and evaluate for obesity-related illnesses,” Russell said in a press release.

Cost savings
Knowing your current health status means you’ll save money.

“Evidence is clear that we can save a tremendous amount of money through          primary prevention,”   Russell said. “Silent conditions can be identified, and we can intervene and save on long-term health-care costs.”

Health checkups should start before age 20. According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)  you should have your blood pressure checked every two years starting at age 18.

Other important testing includes prostate cancer screening for men starting at age 50 or sooner if there is a strong family history of the disease. Women too should have a colonoscopy starting at age 50, yearly mammogram and PAP smears.

It’s important for everyone to get an annual cholesterol check and some pediatricians recommend even recommend widespread testing for children.  

The CDC, as well as UAB Division of Infectious Diseases Associate Professor Turner Overton, M.D say men in their 40’s should be tested at least once for Hepatitis C.

Overton warns you might not have symptoms until cirrhosis and liver failure occurs. People at highest risk are those born between 1945 and 1965.

A one-time screening for HIV is also recommended. Like Hepatitis C, the disease might not manifest until AIDS symptoms are present.

Knowledge is power. Understanding your health and risks means taking an active part in decisions that can lead to improved health. Russell explains getting a complete physical can “… give people the power to make health choices, and Americans are independent and like to make decisions based on information.”

It literally pays to get a health exam this year - and every year. The benefits include cost savings, empowerment and good health through preventive screenings.