Don’t Skip It – That Annual Physical Could Save Your Life
More than 220,000 Americans died of heart attacks in 2002 before they reached the hos­pital. More than 550,000 died of cancer that same year. Early detection could have changed their fates.

For many, the first sign of a heart problem is death. But an annual physical exam and testing can uncover the early stages of heart disease. Early detection of common cancers such as ­prostate, breast, cervix, melanoma and colorectal can result in 5-year survival rates of 100%. Late detection survival rates are as low as 8%. With a routine physical, your doctor also can find and treat high blood pressure, diabetes, urinary infections or abnormalities, bone density changes and many other conditions.

A thorough physical examination can give you peace of mind. It can also help ensure a long and healthy life. There is no reason to fear the routine physical. In fact, you should be afraid to skip it. For your sake and your family’s, schedule your annual physical today.

Why This Drug And Not Another
Why can’t you take Drug X ­instead of Drug Y, which your sister is on? ­Unless she’s your identical twin, your sister is bound to have a different genetic makeup. You might experience muscle aches with the same ­cholesterol drug that she tolerates well.

Secondly, it’s complicated! The amount of ­information available might make it impossible for your physician to ­explain everything to you. It depends on how much you trust your ­doctor, what kind of relationship you have with him or her, and how much you have tried to learn on ­your own.

We often will order tests or medications that we consider necessary or superior based on our knowledge of the situation. Your insurance might not pay for some of them, but your health is our first priority.

Everyone is different and each situation has variables that only primary care professionals will see. As long as the doctor keeps an open mind, he or she can use all information to the patient’s advantage

Helping Your Doctor Help You
Why can’t doctors take the time to discuss why you need to take a specific medication, tests or therapies?

It’s important for you to actively involved in your own care, and most physicians want to answer all questions. At times however, this is impractical. A patient’s discretion is valuable in weighing how to learn without infringing upon another patient’s time.

In addition, the answers are often not simple (and therefore not short). This is compounded by the rapid discovery of new knowledge and, mostly, because each patient is unique.

Finally, some practices not only have time constraints, but also issue constraints, where only 1 or 2 problems can be dealt with at each visit. If this is the case, and you want to understand all of the issues surrounding your care, then it’s often best to plan an additional visit. Also, if you can alert your doctor ahead of time, he or she can be more prepared for your questions.

A little homework on your part can go a very long way.