The Importance of Annual Wellness Check-Ups

Sarah Allen PA-C
Sarah Allen is a certified physician assistant at Vanderbilt Integrated Primary Care Madison Street in Shelbyville.

By Sarah Allen, PA-C, Vanderbilt Integrated Primary Care

A 2021 study found that 41 percent of respondents missed a doctor visit or health care appointment in the early months of the pandemic. Whether your health visits have been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic or other reasons, it’s time to get your medical care back on track

Even if you are healthy, you should always prioritize annual visits with your provider who can provide customized care just for you. When an individual skips or postpones these yearly checkups, it can lead to delayed detection of disease and other illnesses. Annual wellness checkups are fundamental to avert long-term and chronic health conditions and allow doctors to catch and address illness at a more treatable stage.

An annual visit allows patients to have an overall, global approach to their health. During the visit, patients are able to address specific health concerns not always covered at other appointments and discuss their options for a comprehensive health plan. Here is what to know about annual checkups.

Regular checkups are beneficial for all ages.

Annual visits can help identify potential issues before they start, and early detection of illnesses often leads to more treatment options. The purpose of these visits is to screen for medical issues, assess the patient’s risk for future medical problems, encourage a healthy lifestyle, update vaccinations and get to know the provider before you get sick.

It is critical to meet in person with the a provider. 

Annual visits allow the patient and provider to have a dedicated, in person discussion, giving the patient an opportunity to actively participate in the conversation around their health plan. A key portion of an annual checkup is the physical examination where the provider can manually assess a patient’s unique physical findings assessing heart sounds, listening for lung abnormalities, assessing neurologic function, and checking check for abdominal irregularities.

Screening recommendations vary based on gender and your health history. 

Recommendations for exams vary depending on a person’s age, gender, family health history, diet, lifestyle and activity level. There are some tests specifically for men and others for women. Yet there are many tests needed for both, like blood pressure, weight, diabetes screening, and colon cancer screening.

For older adults, there are certain screenings that are critical due to patients being more susceptible to developing different medical conditions. It is important for seniors to have blood pressure, cancer, bone density and sensory screenings, as well as vaccines that protect against shingles, COVID-19, the flu and pneumococcal diseases.

Seeing a provider annually enables you to better manage chronic conditions, and puts you on the path to a healthier life no matter your age. Take control of your preventive care today by scheduling your annual appointment.

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