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Is an annual physical exam worth it?

this was from an email I get sent to me. Very counterintuitive in terms of preventive stuff. So If i don't do the exam, what should I be doing?????

Study Questions Value of Annual Physical Exams

For healthy American adults, the benefits of an annual physical exam may not justify the cost, according to a study in the current issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

"A lot of doctors don't think physical exams are very helpful," said author Ateev Mehrotra, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The study found that 80 percent of preventive care occurs during other kinds of patient visits to doctors, such as a complaint about a minor ailment, said US News and World Report.

"The annual physical is not necessary," said Rick Kellerman, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He said people don't need to be concerned if they miss an annual physical, or several, as long as they have their doctor's approval and remain in close communication with their doctor.

However, a 2005 survey of 800 primary care physicians in Boston, Denver and San Diego found that 65 percent of them believed that an annual physical was a necessity, said US News and World Report. The survey also found that 74 percent of the doctors said annual exams improved early detection of illness, and 94 percent believed they improved patient-doctor relationships.


Wed. Sep 26, 4:40pm

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Wow there are a lot of medical care issues today in threads. I don't really think an annual medical exam is really needed, however, I think women should get a pap at LEAST once a year. Some things, like ovarian or uterine cancer, if left untreated can kill you. They are difficult to detect, but a pap will at least tell your physician something is wrong and to look into to it further

Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 4:46 PM

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For me, annual physicals are worth it- But then I make a point to talk to my doctor and ask him specific questions- my last checkup took an hour. Even better, it took an hour and never once did he look at his watch or try to dismiss me.

Because I have high blood pressure (genetic! thanks mom and dad!), we spend time discussing BP management strategies as well as more general stuff like preventing sports-related injuries and stress management.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 4:47 PM

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The value of the annual physical and its contents have been debated for years. The important issue of an annual exam is not its defined content but the relationship one establishes with a personal physician. The history which identifies risk factors, life styles, and early symptoms then direct behavioral changes that can only be accomplished by trust and respect for advice. The personal physician patient relationship is the key to early detection and compliance for management. Yes impersonal annual exams have questionable value if they don’t achieve that trust voice.

There is no replacement for quality time with your doctor.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 4:50 PM

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I wish I could find a primary care doctor who would do these nice things I hear others speak of. In my adult life, I haven't seen it. The last time I was pressured by family into doing a so-called physical, I had to sign and return an agreement in advance agreeing that any known conditions were not to be discussed. This seems to be justified on the basis that the service being procured is preventive care, and therefore care for a condition known to exist would be fraudulent.
Although I have health insurance that is mostly employer-paid (I cannot get cash instead by declining it), I'm thinking seriously of trying to go to self-pay for primary care to see if I can get some that's actually worth having. I'd have to find a doctor who has no contract with my employer's plan or claims administrator, since those contracts generally forbid the provider to do this. We're already doing this for certain other services to the extent of about $5000 a year out of pocket to get services that are 100% covered when delivered by their contracted insurance mill providers in the manner that the outsourced benefits administrator has contracted for - but we think we are better off without them.

Thursday, September 27, 2007, 2:15 PM

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Nothing that I've ever had done at a "physical" would indicate I had a deeper problem such as cancer. They didn't even draw blood. Perhaps the only thing they could have dectected would have been high blood pressure and blood pressure is something they check at all other visits anyway. I think they are SUCH a waste of time. And pap tests are only 45% accurate and do not detect ovarian or uterine cancer, only cervical cancer - which, if this statistic is true would mean it's only dectected 55% of the time. Not very good odds.

Thursday, September 27, 2007, 2:38 PM

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A pap can detect abnormalities which may lead the doctor to looking into things further. Barely anything detects ovarian cancer. So better some odds of detection. I think your infomation is incorrect, and dangerous to put out there.

I encourage all women to get paps regularly.

Thursday, September 27, 2007, 2:42 PM

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Not dangerous; thought provoking. We should all do our homework and find out more about womens' health and it's reliability/accuracy and then fight for better health care.

Friday, September 28, 2007, 8:51 AM

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if you get your car inspected yearly, why not your body, too?

Friday, September 28, 2007, 10:32 AM

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In order to get a good physical, you need to do a lot of tests and see different doctors and specialists. You basically need what they call an "executive physical"

this is a list of the tests you get in the executive physical from one of the websites. if anyone has any ideas what these tests are, please let me know.

-audiogran, orthorater, tonometry
-CBC, Diff, Platelets, Sedimentation Rate, Ht
-C-Reactive Protein
-BUN, Cr, UA
-Lipid Profile
-Tumor Markers
- Comp Metabolic Panel: AST, ALT, TP, Glob, ALB, T-bil, D-bil, r-GT, ALP
-Serum Virus: HV, TPHA, HIV
-Stool Occult Blood
-PAP Smear
-Chest, PA and Lateral
-Abdominal Ultrasound Complete
-Holter Monitor
-CT of Lungs w/o dye
-Coronary CTA
-Cartoid Artery Imaging
-Hi resolution CT chest imaging
-CT Imaging of abdomen
-Virtual Colonoscopy
-CT imaging of kidneys, bladder and pelvic organs

Friday, September 28, 2007, 11:38 AM

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This is the physical from the "Princeton Longevity Center"

Comprehensive exam typically requires six to seven hours and provides you with all the information and tools necessary for your healthy lifestyle.

All Comprehensive Exams include::

* A Comprehensive Medical Health Assessment
* Extensive Laboratory Analysis
* Evaluation of Five Year Health Risk Assesment
* CompleteCardiovascular Risk Assessment
* Advanced Cancer Early Detection and Screening
* In-depth Nutritional Evaluation with a registered dietitian
* Personalized Fitness Assessment by an Exercise Physiologist
* Comprehensive Review of Results and Personal Wellness Plan

We also offer a wide range of Elective Options to allow you to further individualize your exam or focus on areas of particular interest to you.

* Medical Health Assessment
o Thorough review of medical history and current health status with Physician
o Comprehensive Physical Examination
o Pulmonary Function Testing (Spirometry)
o Audiometry (Hearing Screening)
o Visual Acuity (Vision Screenin

* Laboratory Evaluation
o Comprehensive metabolic profile including:
+ Liver Enzymes
+ Kidney Function
+ Blood Glucose
+ Electrolytes
+ Muscle Enzyme Levels
+ Cardiac Risk Profile
# Lipid Profile
* Cholesterol
* Triglycerides
# C-Reactive Protein
o Complete Blood Count
o Sedimentation Rate
o Thyroid Function Profile
+ T3
+ T4
+ Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
o Urinalysis
o Iron Level
o Ferritin
o Advanced Cardiovascular Lipid Analysis
(OPTIONAL ELECTIVE- recommended for individuals at increased risk of cardiovascular disease):
+ LDL Particle Size Distribution
+ HDL Particle Size Distribution
+ Apo B
+ Insulin
+ Apo E Genotype

* Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment
o In-depth Personal Wellness Profile
o Determination of Biological vs.Chronologic Ages
o Life Expectancy Extension Analysis

* Cardiovascular Risk Assessment
o High Definition 64 Slice CT Heart and Total Vascular Scan
o Electrocardiogram (ECG)
o Treadmill Stress Test
o High Definition 64 Slice CT Angiography (Optional)

* Cancer Screening: Men and Women
o High Definition 64 Slice CT Lung and Full Body Scan
o Colon Cancer Screening
+ High Definition 64 Slice CT 3-D Virtual Colonoscopy (Optional)
+ Hemoccult for Blood in Stool
o Men over 40:
+ Prostate specific antigen test
o Women:
+ Thin-Prep Pap smear *
(*Laboratory Fee billed separately to insurance by LabCorp)
+ Mammography (arranged at nearby radiology center)

* Nutritional Evaluation
o Personal Consultation with Registered Dietitian
o Body Composition Analysis by DEXA
o Computerized Analysis of 3-day Food Diary
o Quantitative Analysis of Nutrient Intake
o Personalized Nutrition Prescription
o Weight Management

* Musculoskeletal Health & Fitness Assessment
o Measurement of Aerobic Capacity and Biologic Fitness Age
o Body Composition and Muscle Mass Analysis
o Quantitative Visceral Fat Analysis
o Bone Densitometry (DEXA)

* Personal Wellness Plan
o Detailed Review of Test Results and Medical Findings with Physician
o All the Time You Need to Have All Your Questions Answered
o Comprehensive Written Report of Results and Recommendations
o Your Road Map for Staying Healthy and Active

Friday, September 28, 2007, 11:45 AM

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