Why do I need medical check-ups?
Stanley Wen, MD, is a board-certified family practitioner on staff at Banner Estrella Medical Center.
Question: I am a healthy individual and do not take any medication. Should I still see a doctor for regular checkups?
Answer: While you may very well be in great health, feeling healthy and being healthy are not always the same thing.
The top causes of death in the United States are heart disease, cancer and stroke. These life-threatening disease processes, and the medical conditions that can lead up to them, often have no symptoms for some time. So, even if you feel fine, a disease may have already begun causing damage to your body.
I can’t count how many times I’ve had patients come in for routine physicals and find that they have sugar in their urine. Not one of them recalls having felt any symptoms. This means they’ve been living with undiagnosed diabetes and, as a result, they were at higher risk for stroke and heart attack.
I also see many patients who are surprised to find that they have seriously high blood pressure. This is why they call hypertension “the silent killer.”
By seeing your doctor for routine check-ups, there is a greater chance of discovering and managing a disease you have now, or learning about the risks you carry simply because of your family history. This knowledge can reduce your risk, delay onset or even prevent these harmful medical conditions from occurring.
Most healthy people can benefit from a once a year check-up with their primary care physician. Those with high blood pressure should probably visit their physician twice a year. Anyone at high-risk for influenza (seniors, pregnant women, those with chronic health conditions) should get an annual flu vaccine.
As physicians, it is our sincere hope that we are able to find and control disease states before they become life-threatening. We want to educate patients about how important it is to be proactive about their health. After all, your body is the most precious thing you own. Come visit, and we can be your partner in protecting your good health.