The number of deaths occurring in young, healthy individuals is on the rise. Most of these individuals have been healthy earlier.

Are our annual medical checks on healthy individuals really important?

Do these examinations have the power to reduce deaths?

Can they substitute for the physical examination of the individual?

As thousands of tests are available, which one to choose?

When should a healthy person undergo medical tests?

Though there are no definite eye guidelines, 25 years of age should be a beginning. This can be done earlier as well in certain individuals who have had childhood obesity or have a strong family history of strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, or hypertension. In those who have had a family member with sudden unexplained deaths in young individuals, the checkups may begin earlier.

What are the tests required to prevent a heart attack?

Heart attacks in the young population are much more severe and carry a higher death rate than in the middle-aged. Hence besides avoiding smoking, stress, and obesity certain tests are necessary. These include tests for Hypertension, Cholesterol, and Diabetes. A baseline ECG and echocardiogram are necessary for individuals with a family history of sudden cardiac death.

What about cancer?

Certain cancers like colon cancers, cancers of breast, ovaries, and liver can have a familial trend. Certain blood cancers and lymphomas can also have a genetic basis. Hence, tests directed to these diseases are suggested. Any cancer detected early has better chances of long-term survival, hence certain tests need to be done annually for early detection. Are the present-day annual tests adequate? The tests need to be decided by the individual and his family doctor. Routine tests like CBC, KFT, LFT, LIPID PROFILE, and DIABETES TESTS are of utmost necessity.

However, they cannot pick up the majority of the cancers. They may stratify your risk factors for coronary artery disease, but they cannot detect early asymptomatic heart disease. Hence, the annual tests done need to be modified depending upon the individual person’s health profile The person’s habits and family history of certain illnesses have definite importance in planning the annual tests.

What are the limitations of these annual examinations?

Certain illnesses like depression and other psychological illnesses cannot be detected. By doing these tests you cannot prevent tuberculosis, dengue, or coronavirus infections. The tests cannot detect any illness that you can get in the future. They can only stratify the risk involved. In that case, what Is the importance of annual checkups? Certain medical disorders like hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, and also early liver and kidney diseases may not be associated with any symptoms. Low haemoglobin, low 1312, and vitamin D levels may not be associated with any symptoms. Correction of these values may help to prevent certain illnesses. Disorders that ultimately increase your risk of heart attack or paralytic stroke can be detected early to reduce your chances of a heart attack, paralysis, or kidney failure.

How can these tests be most cost-effective and prevent diseases?

Plan your annual check-up after consulting your family doctor. Please show your reports to him, even if normal. Please discuss your diet, exercise protocol, and your weight issues if any with him. Discuss with him your mental health and addictions, if any.

Then what is the best way to remain healthy year after year?

If your annual medical reports are normal, then certainly it would make you feel better. However, this should not make you complacent. Normal health is best achieved by avoiding obesity, smoking, excess alcohol and exercising regularly, and having healthy mental health. Annual medical blood tests are certainly the order of the day. However, it is not like one size that fits all. The tests need to be individualized based on many other collateral factors. They certainly are very useful, but they cannot be a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

Categories : Health

Dr Jay Deshmukh is Chief Physician and Director, Sunflower Hospital, Nagpur Honorary Physician to Honorable Governor of Maharashtra and PondicherryCentral. Dr Jay Deshmukh is an M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S., F.C.P.S., M.N.A.M.S., MD From Internal Medicine – Bombay and New Delhi.

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