Many diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure or diabetes show no symptoms in their initial stages. If they are diagnosed early such diseases can be treated resulting in a better prognosis. Identifying risk factors that predispose to certain pathologies and thus being able to monitor them is another advantage of medical check-ups.
Even if you feel healthy it’s advisable to undergo routine medical testing from a certain age onwards. Regular medical check-ups can prevent health problems in the future.
General medical check-up
A general medical check-up would provide a comprehensive review of your general health and could include:
- An interview or so-called clinical history in which the doctor collects personal data or topics of interest (family history, past illnesses, type of diet, vaccination status, sports habits, medication use, specific risk factors such as smoking, alcohol intake, risky sexual behaviour, etc.).
- Comprehensive physical examination (looking for signs or symptoms of diseases, e.g. skin examination, examining your joints, back, abdomen, checking for nodules, etc. ).
- The request for basic complementary diagnostic tests, such as blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound, taking into account your specific situation like risk factors, past medical history, etc..
General recommendations regarding the frequency for this type of check-up varies according to your age and personal situation. It would therefore be advisable to undergo a general check-up every 3-5 years in young people between the ages of 20 and 30, every 2-3 years in patients of intermediate age and every year in patients over 60 or those who have risk factors that needs to be monitored more closely.
These general medical check-ups usually include:
Study of the body mass index (BMI):
To determine if you have a healthy weight for your height or whether you are overweight or obese. It is considered a great indicator of good health and is calculated by obtaining your weight (in kg) and dividing it by your height (in metres) squared.
Blood pressure monitoring:
It’s also important to monitor your blood pressure which you can do at home or by visiting a pharmacy regularly. As a general rule, BP levels below 140/90 are recommended.
Blood tests you can consider:
Cholesterol levels :
(LDL, HDL…). In general, people with high LDL (or “bad” cholesterol) and low HDL (or “good” cholesterol) are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Desired levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood are between 40 and 60 mg/dL. Optimal LDL blood cholesterol levels are below 130mg/dL.
Diabetes type II can develop at any age and is negatively impacted by an unhealthy lifestyle etc. An optimal time to measure your blood glucose levels is during a fasting state such as in the morning before you have your breakfast.
Liver and kidney function:
The tests that give the best basic insight in your liver and kidney function are: transaminase values (ALT, AST), bilirubin, gammaGT, alkaline phosphatase, urea, creatinin, calculation of glomerular filtration rate, etc..
Colon cancer screening:
Generally colon cancer screening is advised from the age of 50 onwards and can be done through a stool sample, and a colonoscopy should be performed every 10 years. However, in patients with a family history or with other additional risk factors it could be advised more frequently.
Testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs):
These tests are recommended for anyone who has sexual intercourse, especially when you or your partner have had intercourse with several sexual partners or have had unprotected sex. It includes testing for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), gonorrhoea, hepatitis B/C, syphilis, among others. Please be aware that many of these STD´s go unnoticed, but may have great consequences on your health and/or your fertility.
Other check-ups, apart from the general check-up
In addition to general medical check-ups, specific check-ups of eyesight, teeth, skin, etc. by specific specialists are also advisable. The most important are:
In general, without vision problems you are advised to have your eyes checked every 2 years. If necessary a referral can be made to an ophthalmologist.
Your general practitioner can examine your skin in a routine check-up and refer you to a dermatologist if necessary. It is advisable to have your skin checked regularly by a doctor; especially if you have suffered many sunburns or have moles, when there is family history of skin cancer or if you have fair skin and eyes.
For all ages it’s recommendable to do a routine check-up and tooth cleaning by a dentist once every 1 to 2 years
All sexually active women or women over the age of 20 years should get a cervical smear test done every year. Women over the age of 50 should have a mammography every two years to screen for breast cancer. STD screening can also be performed by a gynaecologist.
Urological check-ups in men:
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. It’s recommendable to do a PSA or ‘prostate specific antigen’ annual screening from the age of 50 onwards. Another routine test to examine the prostate is a digital rectal examination.
STD screening can also be performed by a urologist.
Osteoporosis test (bone density) in women over 50 years of age / hearing test/etc.
If you have any doubts or complaints, if you feel uncertain about anything or you have questions about your specific situation, please know that we offer you the support of telemedicine by Teladoc. Here you can speak on the phone to a doctor confidentially and will receive personalized advice on your individual situation.