Mapping Out Your Health for 2023
The start of the new year is the perfect time to schedule your preventative health screenings. An expert with Baylor College of Medicine gives her recommendations for what appointments should be in your annual plan.
“It is important to see your primary care provider at least yearly for a preventive checkup, especially as you get older,” said Dr. Saundra Nguyen, assistant professor of medicine at Baylor. “This is one of the best ways to identify health issues before they worsen.”
During these exams, doctors check things like blood pressure and weight, schedule blood tests, ask about your mental health and sexual history and update medications. These visits are the opportunity for you and your primary care physician to create a plan to reach your health goals and identify changes that need to be made to your lifestyle to keep you healthy. Nguyen encourages patients to establish a relationship with their primary care physician to benefit their health.
“By seeing the same doctor regularly, you are developing a long-term relationship in which your doctor gets to better know you, your medical conditions and your priorities and concerns,” Nguyen said. “This leads to better management of chronic conditions, more preventive screenings and early detection of any health issues. It also helps with time savings and often higher satisfaction levels with your care.”
Another important preventative health measure is scheduling annual vaccinations.
“Currently, the one vaccine we recommend annually is the seasonal flu vaccine, usually at the start of the flu season, which is typically around September and lasts through March,” Nguyen said.
As we age, we also need regular preventative health screenings. Nguyen list some of the most important ones:
- Women should get cervical cancer screening starting at age 21 and should discuss breast cancer screening starting at age 40
- At age 45, both men and women should begin scheduling colon cancer screenings
- After age 65, both men and women will be screened for osteoporosis and fall risk and begin having discussions about advanced care planning, which can include healthcare power of attorney, wills and other important documents
“There are other annual screenings and tests that may be recommended, but they depend on individual risk factors, such as if you have a chronic disease. At your annual checkup, ask your doctor which ones you should be scheduling,” Nguyen said.