Why annual physical exam is important

MakatiMed’s HealthHub offers a safe, effective outpatient executive checkup

There is a good reason why resolutions are made just before January. Each New Year signifies a chance to reboot, to start fresh on a clean slate, with 365 days to make things right, and really start living a “healthy normal” especially these days when the pandemic seems far from being over.

So, it’s no surprise that getting fit and eating right remain the top resolutions people make each and every New Year. If there is anything that the pandemic has taught us, it’s the value of life and how a healthy body can protect us from diseases like the deadly coronavirus. Besides, after stuffing ourselves during the holidays, indulging in rich and hearty dishes is the most delightful thing on everybody’s mind!

Before jumping on the exercise bandwagon or replacing the contents of your fridge with healthier choices, consider taking an annual physical exam or executive checkup.

Annual physical exam

“The annual physical exam gives you an idea of where you are and how you are doing health-wise,” says Minerva M. Laconico, MD of top hospital in the Philippines, Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed). “According to a 2017 study by the Department of Health, more than 12 million Filipinos are hypertensive. Yet half of them—roughly 1 in 4 people—are unaware of it. Same with diabetes: 1 in 14 Filipinos live with diabetes but many do not know they are diabetic until they experience the symptoms of this ‘silent killer.’”

“Knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other vital information could spell the difference between a healthy person and one who may suddenly suffer a heart attack or stroke. It is highly recommended that all of us, regardless of age, undergo an annual physical exam.”

Not convinced? Here are three reasons why you should schedule your annual physical exam in January:

To have a baseline of your health

Annual physical exam packages vary, depending on what your doctor recommends, but most include the following:

Body Mass Index

Body mass is determined by a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters.

Blood pressure

A digital blood pressure machine or manual sphygmomanometer is used to read two measurements: the upper number or systolic (measured when the heart beats, when the blood pressure is at its highest) and the lower number of diastolic (measured between heart beats, when blood pressure is at its lowest).

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg, no matter your age,” Dr. Laconico explains.

Blood test

Through a blood test, doctors can get a clear picture of your total lipids, or fats and fatty substances used by the body as a source of energy. These include cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good cholesterol”), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad cholesterol”).

“For total cholesterol, aim for 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or less. For HDL or ‘good cholesterol,’ 60 mg/dL or higher is good and protects you from heart disease. For LDL or ‘bad cholesterol,’ less than 100 mg/dL is ideal,” says Dr. Laconico.

Fasting blood sugar

An overnight fast of 8 to 10 hours is required for a test that measures the sugar in your blood.

“The CDC says a fasting blood sugar level of 99 mg/dL or lower is normal. 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates you have prediabetes, and 126 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes,” she says.

Treadmill test

Doctors primarily use a treadmill test – you’ll be asked to exercise on treadmill while being hooked up to an electrocardiogram (EKG) – or exercise stress test to help determine if your heart receives enough oxygen and proper blood flow when it needs it the most, like when you are exercising, and what level you can safely handle.

Abdominal Ultrasound

“For evaluating internal organs, we usually order abdominal ultrasound imaging,” Dr. Laconico says. The procedure captures images of the structure and movement of the kidneys, liver, gall bladder, bile ducts, pancreas, spleen, and abdominal aorta and other blood vessels. “It helps diagnose pain or enlargement of those organs, and provide information on their overall condition.”

Physical exam

A general physical examination usually covers everything from vital signs, vision acuity, to cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal assessments, and neuro exam.

To develop good health habits

“Knowing the results of your annual physical motivates you to continue with your healthy practices,” Dr. Laconico points out. “It may also be a wake-up call to finally do something about your health, like cutting back on sweets or salty food and signing up for a virtual Zumba class or committing to walk every day.”

To establish a relationship with your health practitioner

“Your doctor will not only know the details of your medical history, he or she would have followed your progress through months and years, and will be able to recommend treatments suited to your needs,” says Dr. Laconico. “You in turn would have developed a level of trust with your primary physician, making you comfortable enough to speak honestly and from the heart about your health concerns.”

Safe, appropriate, and effective healthcare is what you can expect from MakatiMed’s HealthHub. Its HealthHub Outpatient services include the annual physical exam, which involves screenings for hypertension, diabetes, and identifying risk factors for cardiovascular conditions, and gastrointestinal and liver diseases. Specialized packages to screen for colon, breast, and cervical cancer, as well as osteoporosis, are also available.

For more information, please contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632.88888 999, email mmc@makatimed.net.ph, or visit www.makatimed.net.ph. Follow @IamMakatiMed on Facebook and Twitter.