Getting a regular health check-up done is the best way to keep your health on track. Regular health exams can help find problems before they start. Health check-ups can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better.
Dr. Arshad Bhat, Specialist Internal Medicine at Mediclinic Al Sufouh said, “While health care is becoming expensive and sophisticated, these technological advances on the other hand enable us to diagnose and cure many diseases if detected at an early stage . Treatments employed for many common diseases have succeeded in prolonging and improve the quality of life . This underscores the strong focus on early detection of disease process through evidence based screening programs.”
Connector spoke with industry experts to shed light on a range of health check-ups, respective age groups the various health risk factors one should be aware of.
Common health check-ups for both men and women
Everyone should practice monthly head-to-toe self examination of their skin, so that they can find any new or changing lesions that might be cancerous or precancerous. Skin cancers found early are almost always curable. If you spot anything suspicious during skin self-check, see a dermatologist.
Colorectal cancer- colonoscopy
Dr. Nazia Salam of Health Shield Medical Centre said, “Both men and women can be screened for colon cancer from the age of 40 years up until 75 years old (DOH Abu Dhabi). The screening test is called a colonoscopy, where a camera is inserted into the colon and it is done every 10 years. If a person has certain medical conditions, this may be more often and your doctor will advise you on this. Alternatively, a stool test can be done every 2 years.”
Dr. Hubert de Grully - Cosmetic & Restorative Dentist CEREC® of Dr. Roze & Associates Dental Clinic said, “ Attending the dentist at least twice a year is essential to maintain healthy teeth and gums. The earlier decay or gum inflammation is detected the easier it is to treat and, the better the prognosis is likely to be. During a routine dental check up, your dentist will check for cavities or gum disease as well as examining your face, neck and mouth for abnormalities. An X-ray may be carried out - as well as a scale and polish to remove any build-up of plaque or tartar. Between visits to the dentist patients should brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss daily.”
According to Dr. Nazia Salam, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that all adults above 35 years old have their cholesterol checked every 5 years. If a person has the following risk factors: diabetes, smoking, BMI of more than 30, family history of stroke, family history of heart attacks, screening should begin at 20 years instead. Screening is done by drawing a sample of blood from the arm. The UK guidelines recommend a cholesterol test every 5 years between the ages of 40 and 75 or every year if a person is already on cholesterol lowering medication. A person with a family history of familial hypercholesterolaemia (a type of high cholesterol which is genetic) should be screened at the age 10.
Dr. Nazia further adds, “Blood pressure should be checked from the age of 40 years and then at least once every 5 years. If a person is at increased risk of high blood pressure, for example because they have a family history of high blood pressure they can be checked more often. This will be decided by your doctor. High blood pressure is confirmed by an increased blood pressure reading on at least two different visits.”
BMI is nothing but the ratio of your body weight to your height. A BMI between the range of 20-25 is considered healthy. Check your BMI regularly to prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.
There are online calculators that can swiftly give you an idea of your BMI, however a quick method is to divide your weight in kilograms by your height in metres, and then divide the answer by your height in metres again.
To lead a good life, we need good vision. Keeping eye health in check is important. One should go at least once a year for an eye check-up. A regular check will help you prevent macular degeneration and refractive problems and problems that cause blindness such as glaucoma.
Diabetes tests measure blood sugar level in the body. You can go for this test three times a year depending upon your lifestyle, family history and weight.
Anaemia test measures iron and red cells in the body. If you suffer from breathlessness and feel tired quite often, you may be anaemic.
Bone health check-up
Dr. Khaled Mahmoud Bittar, Specialist Orthopedic, Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, said, “ Bone health is a major concern for everyone regardless of age and gender. Osteoporosis is generally thought of as a “woman’s disease” because the prevalence of osteoporosis and the rate of fractures are much higher in postmenopausal women than in older men. Even though bone loss in men usually occurs later in life compared with women, men can still be at high risk for osteoporosis. By age 65, men catch up to women and lose bone mass at the same rate.
Building strong bones and reaching peak bone density (maximum strength and solidness), especially before the age of 30, can be the best defence against developing osteoporosis.”
Health check-ups for men
Other than general health check-ups, men should visit doctors for must do health check-up specific to their gender.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm
An abdominal aortic aneurysm, also referred to as an AAA is when one of the main blood vessels in the abdomen enlarges over time and then suddenly ruptures. They can be fatal in up to 90% of cases. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommend screening for an abdominal aortic aneurysm in men aged between 65 and 75 years, who have smoked 100 or more cigarettes in their lifetime.
Health check-ups for women
Dr. Astha Mishra, Specialist Gynecologist at Aster Clinic, Al Khail Mall said, “ A few essential tests that women between the ages 25-55 should undergo to prevent major health concerns are routine gynecological clinical examinations and ultrasounds to check uterus and ovaries are recommended, for all sexually active women or those having any complaints."
Cervical cancer screenings or Pap tests are essential in women between the ages 21 - 65, every three years or earlier is recommended depending on risk factors and previous reports
Thyroid tests should begin at the age of 30 to obtain a baseline result, based on which one can understand the risks. However, if you have a family history of thyroid, screening must be done early by the age of 20.
Mammogram screenings should be carried out yearly for women in their 40’s in order to rule out the possibilities of breast cancer or to aid diagnosis at an early stage as advised by your clinician. However clinical breast examinations can be done for women from their 20’s to identify breast cancer relatively early.
Right age for health check-ups
Dr. Nazia of Health Shield Medical Centre said, “ Generally, at 35-40 years both men and women should be going for regular health check-ups. If there is a family history of any disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, this can be sooner and a tailored schedule can be made for the individual. Cancer screenings are very important to help detect the early stages of the most common cancers. In the UAE these should be started at the ages advised above.”
Dr. Khaled Mahmoud Bittar of Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery said, “All women 65 years and older, younger postmenopausal and premenopausal women who have one or more risk factors or with vertebral abnormalities must perform bone health check-up. Men aged 70 and older, younger men who have broken a bone or who have one or more risk factors or with vertebral abnormalities must undergo timely tests.
Things to do before going for health check-ups
Dr. Nazia suggests that one should go through the following check list before they appear for any health check-up.
• Make a call to your healthcare practitioner and understand any steps you need to take before a particular health test
• Try to reach the hospital 30 minutes before your appointment and as all health check-ups take at least three to four hours to finish, wear comfortable clothing.
• You should be fasting for at least 8-10 hours before doing a fasting sugar test.
• The best time to do a Pap smear and mammography is after finishing menstrual cycle, and it is advisable to abstain from sexual activity and vaginal douches before going for Pap smear.
• Avoid stress, massage or any relaxation therapy before going for health check-ups.
What to do post health check-up results
Your doctor knows your medical history and can suggest an appropriate exercise regime for you based on your goals and medical condition. It is important to follow professional advice when striving for a healthy lifestyle and not fall into the latest trend. Doctors are there to advise you regarding nutrition as well as exercise that is most compatible to preserve your joints, general health and prevent injury.
Dr. Ilaria Saredi, Family Medicine Specialist at Allied Medical Center, said, “We have created a 360 degree wellness programme to perform a full medical check up with a family medicine specialist, and teamed up with nutrition and fitness specialists, well acquainted with patients medical details, to effectively plan a correct and balanced fitness and diet regime to help patients achieve their health goals safely, with a team of professionals who communicate between themselves as well as with the patient. A follow up consultation after 1 month is also planned to discuss both experience and results obtained and advise on future follow up necessary.”