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5 Medical Tests You Should Get Annually

Dr. Huma Anjum

2 min read

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Regular screening can help ward off disease and if the disease is detected early, it can also help in the early commencement of treatment. According to Keri Peterson, MD, Internist at New York City, early detection can ‘prevent complications and improve quality of life.’ For annual physical examination, some simple tests performed by your general physician can save your health.

However, your doctor may also recommend additional tests based on your personal health profile. Here is a list of investigations that you should get at least annually for optimal health according to top general physicians in Pakistan:

1- Colon cancer screening:

The incidence of colon cancer is increasing day by day in Pakistan, due to westernization of diet, and unhealthy eating habits. For everyone over the age of 50, it is recommended that they should undergo a colonoscopy to assess risk for cancer.

For people who have a family history of polyps or colon cancer, screening is recommended to start at an earlier age. Colonoscopy requires preparation of gut, using laxatives to clean out the colon. Thereafter, a flexible viewing scope is inserted into the rectum and colon is inspected visually. Once the inspection is completed, the findings help the gastroenterologist figure out a plan of action, if there are any growths or polyps observed.

2- Blood pressure screening:

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), an ideal blood pressure reading should be below 120/80. It should be checked at least once in two years for regular people. For the high-risk population, for instance, those with a strong family history, those with high blood cholesterol, those with obesity or other risk factors, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends annual screening.

Most of the Asian population is at higher risk for heart diseases. Therefore, they should get their blood pressure checked regularly, as it could an early indication of disease. Ideally, the screening should start at age 20. Your doctor can add in more screening tests for cardiovascular health depending on your health profile.

3- Cholesterol check:

High cholesterol is a risk factor for a lot of diseases—including stroke and heart disease. Ideally, blood cholesterol should be measured at least once in five years, according to the National Institutes of Health. Preferably, the level of total blood cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dl, whereas a borderline high reading is considered between 200 and 239 mg/dl.

There are many familial diseases of hypercholesterolemia, however, whereby extremely high levels of total cholesterol and LDLs are seen that put the person at risk of developing heart diseases and stroke. If anyone is suffering from any form of familial hypercholesterolemia, then they should be getting frequent readings of their total cholesterol and should be taking medication to keep the cholesterol under control.

4- Bone density screening:

Women above the age of 65, are at risk of developing osteoporosis. This is especially true for women in Pakistan, where a large majority of women suffer from calcium and vitamin D deficiency.

Female hormone estrogen plays a big role in the regulation of bone formation, and calcium deposition. After menopause, when the levels of estrogen diminish, the process of bone formation also slows down. As a result, bones become fragile, and brittle with an increased risk of fracture due to minor trauma like a fall.

Bone density screening tests, like DEXA, should thus be performed regularly in women above the age of 65, as recommended by studies, for diagnosis of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis screening with DEXA can also be started at a younger age if there are risk factors like low body weight and history of fractures.

DEXA is a non-invasive investigation, in which the patient lies on the table while low dose X-rays help capture images of the bones. If diagnosed timely, osteoporosis patients can be started on a regimen of calcium, and vitamin D to strengthen the bone matrix and prevent the chances of fractures.

5- Blood glucose tests:

Diabetes is a very common healthcare concern in Pakistan, owing to a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits, and a lack of proper exercise regimen. This disease is rampant in the urban setting of Pakistan, and women especially are vulnerable to it.

Therefore, women above the age of 45 years, should get a blood glucose test random, or fasting, to rule out diabetic or pre-diabetic state. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a level of fasting plasma glucose above 100mg/dl is indicative of pre-diabetic state; while a level above 126 mg/dl is a definite indicator of diabetes.

This screening can be started at an earlier age in patients who have a strong family history of diabetes, or if the general physician of the patient feels that they are susceptible to diabetes.   

Get a thorough check-up from your doctor, and the age relevant investigations to rule out the risk of diseases. Book an appointment with top general physician in Lahore, Multan and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Huma Anjum - Author Dr. Huma Anjum is a Family Physician based in Lahore. She is member of Pakistan Medical and Dental Councils and can be consulted for a range of medical conditions. Using oladoc, you can book appointment with Dr. Huma.
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