It may surprise you to know that there is evidence that an annual physical examination is NOT effective in finding hidden disease in healthy people.
Based on this evidence, the annual physical examination has been replaced by the preventative health visit.
What is included in the preventative health visit, varies from person to person depending on age, gender, and risk factors, and IS evidence-based. What does this mean?
1. It means doing more procedures (e.g blood pressure checks, immunizations), blood work and cancer screening that has evidence to improve patient outcomes, such as lower mortality or disease prevention.
2. It also means fewer procedures, blood work and investigations that do not improve patient outcomes.
There are many procedures, tests and investigations that do have evidence for improving your health, including:
1. Immunizations: routine childhood vaccines, tetanus shots every 10 years, pneumonia vaccines for patients >65 (or some high risk patients), and flu shots.
2. Cervical cancer screening: all people with a cervix who have ever been sexually active should have a PAP test every 3 years from age 21 to 69. People with compromised immune systems or with a history of abnormal PAP tests may need more frequent screening.
3. Colon cancer screening: all patients 50 to 74 years old should do a fecal occult blood test (a stool sample you collect at home) every 2 years. Higher risk patients may need different screening tests such as a colonoscopy, or earlier screening.
4. Breast cancer screening: all women 50 to 74 years old should have a mammogram done every 2 years. Higher risk patients may benefit from different screening options.
5. Sexually transmitted infection screening: all sexually active patients with new or multiple unprotected sexual partners should have testing with urine or swabs and blood tests.
6. Blood Pressure Checks: all adults should have regular blood pressure checks (at least annually).
7. Diabetes screening: all patients over 40, or high risk patients, should have screening blood tests every 3 years.
8. High cholesterol screening: all men >40, all women >50 and high risk patients should have screening fasting cholesterol blood tests every 3 years.
9. Bone density screening: all adults >65 and some higher risk patients should have bone density testing every 1-5 years depending on risk level.
Most importantly, healthy eating, regular exercise, and quitting smoking, are the best things you can do for developing and maintaining good physical and mental health.
At the Sharbot Lake Family Health Team, we want to take a proactive, evidence-based approach to your health care.
Can I address my preventative health care at other visits?
Absolutely! We want patients to take a proactive approach to their health care. If you think you are due for a mammogram, tetanus shot, blood pressure check, etc, you can ask at any visit.
Go to Cancer Care Ontario for more information https://www.cancercare.on.ca/pcs/screening/