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Why do Health checks?

It’s a new year, and we have spent most of the day wishing each other all the good things of life, of which I believe good health is included.  Yet good health is not all just about wishes. True, in the greater scheme of things it is not in our hands either, but there are certain positive things we can do to improve our chances of achieving good health. Health screening is one of them.

Health screening involves our going to a health facility and subjecting ourselves to a physical examination by the doctor, doing several tests which may include blood, urine, stool and radiological tests, and concluding with a frank discussion with the doctor about our health. So why do this, especially if you are not feeling sick? The answer is that many diseases are silent killers, you are not aware of their presence until it is difficult to treat or worse. So health screening allows for early detection of diseases thereby improving the chances of treatment and cure. Health screening also helps us to detect risk factors for disease, so helping us to curb these risk factors before they even lead to disease.

The World Heart Federation encourages us to know our numbers, by which they mean we should check our blood pressure regularly, know our body mass index (to prevent obesity), and check our blood sugar and cholesterol regularly. This would help to prevent cardiovascular diseases.

However beyond this, we recommend an annual comprehensive health screening for everyone above the age of 25 years, that comprises checks on the major organs of the body, the heart, lungs, kidney, liver, prostate, breast, cervix to name a few. This would help in early diagnosis of diseases including cancer, thereby improving the chances of cure.

There are different types of health screening which varies from one health facility to another. To know the exact health screening to do, it’s best to speak with the doctor, who will consider your age, your particular health condition and family medical history. For instance, if you have a family history of breast cancer, you may need to start mammogram screening as early as the age of 25 years, whereas if you do not have a family history of breast cancer, you are expected to start having mammograms from the age of 40 years.

About Dr Emeka Okocha

Consultant Cardiologist with interest in preventive cardiology

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