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The Importance of an Annual Physical

Dallas Annual Physicals & Check-Ups

As we age, an annual physical can serve as an excellent means for flagging and identifying health conditions that deserve our attention in order to maintain and improve health. Even if you exercise and “feel good,” your body undergoes changes as you age that has a great deal to do with genetics. As a result, if you have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, breast or prostate cancer, an annual physical allows doctors to screen for health conditions you might be at an increased risk for developing.

What to expect in an Annual Physical

During a physical, your doctor will first check your vital signs – blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. This helps develop a history and baseline for determining if you have hypertension. Your heart rate also alerts your doctor to any number of issues – possible vitamin deficiencies, anemia, tachycardia, or atrial fibrillation.

After checking your vital signs, there are roughly seven components to the annual physical:

  • Heart: Listening to your heart with a stethoscope, your doctor will listen for clicks, murmurs, irregular heartbeats, or signs of heart disease.
  • Lungs: Your doctor will also listen to your lungs in order to detect certain sounds associated with heart and/or lung disease. Fluid around the lungs, for instance, can indicate a problem with the heart that should be checked further.
  • Abdomen: Your doctor will tap your abdomen to check the size of your liver and to check for the presence of abdominal fluid.
  • Neurological: Your reflexes and muscle strength will be assessed. You may be asked to undergo various balance exercises or to walk in a straight line, heal to toe.
  • Head, Eyes, and Neck: Your doctor will look inside your mouth and inspect your tonsils, gums, and teeth. A person’s gums and teeth provide information about your overall health and can alert your physician to certain conditions if bleeding, inflammation, or an infection is present. Inspecting your eyes can alert your doctor to whether or not there are signs of high blood pressure, diabetes, neurological issues, or inter cranial pressure associated with brain tumors. Your doctor will also look in your ears to determine if there are issues with fluid or inflammation and problems with your sinuses. Lastly, your doctor will feel around your neck to check for swollen lymph nodes and to make sure your thyroid gland is normal.
  • Hands and Legs: Your doctor may also test the degree of sensitivity in your extremities by running an instrument along the bottom of your feet.
  • Skin: It’s important to check your skin for any unusual or suspicious moles since older adults are typically at an increased risk for developing skin cancer, especially if you’ve suffered sunburn when you were younger.

Blood Tests and the Annual Physical

Since research has shown a link between obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes, your doctor may draw up a basic metabolic panel to determine where you are in terms of your glucose, cholesterol, lipids, and liver enzyme counts. Again, this allows your doctor to begin building a medical history for you while determining if there are any health issues that might recommend treatment with medication. If you are over the age of fifty, you may be asked to complete a stool sample to test for blood in the stool, an earlier warning sign associated with polyps and colon cancer.

Contact Hillcrest Medical Today to Schedule Your Physical

At Hillcrest Medical, we offer a wide range of medical and urgent care needs for people who may not want to wait weeks or months to see a doctor. We have a complete suite of diagnostic resources that make getting a physical easy and hassle-free. If it’s been a while since your last physical, call Dallas metro area doctors at (214) 368-3800 today and schedule your appointment.

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