Many Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but there’s an important one you may have missed– making and keeping your preventive health care appointments. According to the CDC, preventive health care services are utilized at roughly half the recommended rate. At the same time, chronic diseases that are largely preventable, like heart disease and diabetes, are responsible for 7 of every 10 deaths among Americans each year. Regular preventive visits to your health care provider can help you identify and manage disease risk factors, as well as detect disease early when it’s easier to treat.
It’s easy to put off making these appointments because they don’t feel urgent. If you’re feeling ill, it’s easy to motivate yourself to get to the doctor because you want to feel better, but preventive care may feel like just another item on your to do list. You may be reluctant to take time out of your busy schedule to go to the doctor, but consider how much time you can save in the long run by being proactive about your health. Making time for a well visit and implementing a few healthy changes at your provider’s direction is a much simpler task than managing a complex, long-term disease.
While regular preventive visits to your doctor can keep you healthier in the long run, also consider that having an established relationship with a primary care provider that you feel comfortable with and who knows your medical history can make managing future health issues easier. A primary care provider who’s familiar with your complete medical background may be better able to identify any concerning trends or developing risk factors to help you be more proactive about your health. As a simple example, consider your weight. Your primary care provider is more likely to notice if you’ve been slowly but consistently gaining weight and help you make lifestyle changes to maintain a healthy weight. If you don’t see a provider regularly, the weight gain is more likely to go unnoticed until it becomes a problem.
You can make the most out of your annual physical with a little preparation. Consider making a list with the following information to ensure you don’t forget anything. This can be especially helpful if you get nervous at the doctor’s office.
- Current medications
- Previous surgeries or hospitalizations
- Family medical history
- Concerns or symptoms you’re experiencing
- Any questions you have for your provider
Keep these tips in mind and start the New Year off right. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2019!