Ring in the New Year
Ring in the New Year
Lose weight. Exercise more. Quit smoking. New Year’s resolutions are wonderful opportunities to start or recommit to healthy habits. But before you rush into action, ensure you’ve scheduled an annual health checkup.
Yearly medical visits offer the perfect opportunity to discuss health goals with your primary care provider.
“Prior to embarking on a new diet or exercise regimen, it’s important to review your objectives with
your primary care provider to help maximize your efforts,” says James Reilly, MD, vice chairman of the
Department of Medicine, director of General Internal Medicine and program director of the Internal
Medicine Residency Program at West Penn Allegheny Health System. “Some fad diets may not be
appropriate for you, especially if you have preexisting conditions, such as diabetes or high cholesterol.
Your provider can help tailor a dietary and physical fitness plan specifically for you. The same rings true
for physical fitness.”
Making a Health List, Checking it Twice
In addition to nutritional and lifestyle counseling, annual physician appointments are the ideal time
to complete annual health screenings. Early detection of existing health conditions through screening
can help you take control and work to improve your health. Screenings are determined according to
age, gender, family history and preexisting risk factors. These health screenings may include:
- Blood pressure check, every two years, starting at age 18.
- Breast cancer and cervical cancer screening, clinical breast exams every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and an annual mammogram starting at age 40. Cervical cancer screenings annually beginning at age 18.
- Colonoscopy, administered at age 50, unless family history suggests otherwise, and every 10 years following.
- Cholesterol testing, at least every five years beginning at age 35 and at age 20 if you use tobacco, are obese, have diabetes or hypertension, have a personal history of heart disease, or have a man in your family who’s had a heart attack before age 50 or a woman before age 60.
- Prostate cancer screening, beginning at age 50, or earlier for men with a family history of the disease.