Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Let's Get Physical(s)!

With apologies to Olivia Newton John, I do want to encourage everyone to “get (a) physical”- schedule a complete exam with your family physician! Since this is my birthday month, I am reminded that many of my patients choose to have their annual exam around their birthday, which I think is a great way to be consistent and to remember to prioritize your health. What better gift can you give yourself?
Why bother having an exam if you have no complaints? Well, the whole point of a complete physical exam is to look you over from head to toe and do preventative health care. So many diseases are silent- high blood pressure, diabetes, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), or even cancers such as melanomas, breast, cervical and colon cancer. Let your family doctor learn your family and personal health history, so she can best direct your physical exam and blood work to address your risk factors.
Please don’t wait until you lose those extra 20 pounds or lower that blood pressure of sugar level before you go in! The last thing we want is our patients being afraid we will judge or criticize them. What we family docs do want is to partner with our patients to give them tools to lose that weight or lower that blood pressure or sugar safely. Some times, yes, that means starting medicines, but that absolutely does not mean you will be stuck on that medicine for life. Often starting blood pressure or diabetes medicine helps patients feel better- more energy, less headaches- which then enables them to exercise more and have a more effective weight loss program. The goal is to improve your diet and exercise enough that you no longer need the medicine, and that makes for a truly positive annual exam next year!
BOTTOM LINE: Check your calendar, and if it’s been over a year since your last physical exam, pick up the phone and call your family doctor to schedule one!

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