The Veterans' Annual Checkup - Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island
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Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island


The Veterans' Annual Checkup

Doctor examining a patient

Annual checkups let your doctor collect a history of your health information that would be very valuable if you became ill and is also a good time for diagnostic tests and screenings.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Keeps You Healthy — Could Save Your Life

Some Veterans think you only go to the doctor when something is wrong.  Why go to the doctor when you feel healthy?

Because an annual checkup may help you stay healthy longer.

An annual checkup can provide your physician with valuable information should you become ill.  It can also help diagnose disease early and allows your doctor to give you important advice on disease prevention.

Every adult, regardless of age, should have an annual checkup.

The physical is the perfect time to update your medical records.

Why an annual checkup is valuable:

  • Regular checkups help your doctor accumulate a history of your health information that would be very valuable if you became ill.
  • Diagnostic tests, like blood tests, and routine screenings can help your VA health team diagnose diseases before you show any symptoms.
  • If you are overweight or trying to quit smoking, you can get good advice about these challenges during your checkup.
  • Knowing your family’s medical history and talking about your lifestyle will help your VA doctor determine your risk factors.  This helps him or her make recommendations about disease prevention.
  • A checkup is not just about your physical well-being. It’s also about your mental health.  This is a good time to get counseling about things like stress, depression, or anxiety.
  • It’s also a good time to ensure all of your vaccinations are up to date.

More Good Reasons to Get a Yearly Checkup

One of the most important reasons to get an exam is screenings.  A blood test for cholesterol or diabetes is great for early intervention of potential diseases.  A colonoscopy, a pap smear, and a breast exam are all key to catching any signs of cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage.

You should have health measurements like blood pressure done at least once a year, usually much more often.  Elevated blood pressure over time is a risk for heart disease. Weight monitoring is very important to ensure overall health.  And a loss of height could indicate an acceleration of osteoporosis.

The physical is the perfect time to update your medical records. It’s so important to keep a record of your lab tests, immunizations and illnesses. Keep a record of your allergies in case of a recurring illness or emergency situation.  An accurate family history will help to detect any genetic patterns that may put you at a high risk for disease.

You may think that because you exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet, there is no need to get a checkup.  Would you go several years without changing the oil in your car? You should be taking better care of your body than your car.

Most of us don’t have a clue what’s going on inside our body.  There could be an unknown problem that can be discovered with an annual checkup.

Just think about how happy you will feel after your physical, knowing that everything is OK or that you have discovered a problem early enough to do something about it.  You don’t need to obsess anymore over that ache or pain you didn’t understand.

Having less to worry about not only feels great but leads to better health because now you have one less thing to cause you stress. Checking the annual physical off your list of things to do lets you get back to the things you really enjoy.

To stay healthy all year between your annual physicals, see the Healthy Living Messages provided by VHA’s National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

Haven't had your annual physical?  Call the Providence VA Medical Center today at (401) 457-3336 or (866) 590-2976 (option 5) and schedule YOUR physical!


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