Patients are accustomed to the idea of having regular “check-ups.” The idea of a check-up means different things to different people. Some people refer to a check-up as a “physical” or a “health maintenance exam.” Some women will schedule a PAP test expecting a complete “physical.” For the purposes of this exercise we will refer to the physical as a health maintenance exam.
The concept of health maintenance is based on the idea that there are certain things that people can do to maintain or improve their present health and also prevent certain illnesses from occurring. The examination will focus on detecting problems that may not cause symptoms, such as high blood pressure, but can be treated to try to avoid the complications of the condition. Certain tests can be done to detect problems in the early stages, when they still can be treated successfully, even before that problem causes symptoms. An example would be the PAP test. This test can detect an asymptomatic condition that can be treated to prevent invasive cervical cancer. Immunizations can be given to prevent certain illnesses. Also, behaviors that place patients at health risk, such as smoking, can be identified and discouraged. An effective health maintenance exam will include a physical exam, tests that have been proven to detect treatable problems cost effectively, updating immunizations, and counseling about healthy lifestyles.
The health maintenance exam has its limitations though. At this time there are not effective ways to screen for every cancer or problem. In the future, there may be new ways to screen for some problems. Any new screening test or procedure must be able to detect a problem that can be treated, or helped, through detection as determined by research.
The purpose of this site is to try to provide you with the current guidelines for health screening, cancer screening, immunizations, and cardiac risk assessment. Through this site, you will find information about recommended examination schedules for you or your family by age and gender. Also, you will be able to track your and your family’s health history.
Health maintenance guidelines have been developed by established organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the National Institute of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Cholesterol Education program. The guidelines are based on research that has demonstrated that testing can discover problems for which interventions are available. There are screening tests being promoted by clinics or diagnostic centers or even traveling units that have not been established as effective screening tests. In general, if a test requires payment in cash, is not covered by insurance, or has not been suggested by your doctor, it is not an accepted, effective test. If you have questions about tests you have heard of or have seen advertised in the media, ask your provider about them.
Individuals have inherent risks of illness and even death. There are ways to reduce risk. Each individual has the personal opportunity and responsibility to do what they can to change behaviors to reduce risk. Avoidance of tobacco products can lower risk of many diseases including cancer. Using alcohol in moderation and avoiding driving, or riding in a car with someone who has had alcohol, can reduce your risk of illness and accident. Regular exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular health and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Obesity has been linked to several health problems, so weight control can reduce risk. A balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, grains, meats or protein, and dairy products is suggested. The risk of death or serious injury can be reduced by wearing restraints while driving or riding in the car.
For specific cancer screening guidelines click below.
Health Maintenance Worksheets