When could routine help save your life?
We all know how precious time is, but have you ever stopped to think that how you spend your time could ultimately determine how much you have of it?
With life back to a frantic pace for so many of us, doctors are urging us not to lose sight of how important regular health checks are in preventing or diagnosing serious health issues.
It comes as the 2021 Census delivers a sobering snapshot of Australia’s health. Out of 25.8 million people living in Australia, nearly 4.8 million reported to be living with a serious medical condition like asthma, cancer, diabetes or heart disease.
A further one million people said they live with a long-term medical condition that wasn’t listed.
While COVID-19 thrust health to the forefront of daily conversation and government policies, the pandemic also meant other health issues took a back seat, with many of us postponing or losing track of routine check-ups.
It’s these routine tests or check-ups that can help uncover, prevent or lessen the effect of a disease. GPs are well-trained to pick up on subtle changes in your health that could lead to bigger problems. Think of your body a bit like a car. It’s best to get it checked regularly to avoid seeing those warning lights appear.
As Bupa’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Mark Lubliner explains, prevention is always better than the alternative and with more of us developing chronic conditions, we need to have a stronger focus on preventative health and wellness. Being on the front foot with your health and taking up screening tests will give you a much better chance of surviving any diagnosis, should there be something wrong.
Each stage of life brings its own medical considerations. So, for example, while your cholesterol was fine in your 20s, you might need to get it checked once you’re in your 30s or 40s.
Your medical history, family history and even your ethnicity play a role in your risk of developing certain health concerns. Your GP will consider your age, as well as your individual risk factors, to decide which screening tests are most appropriate for you.
COMMON SCREENING TESTS
- Blood pressure
- BMI, waist and hip measurements
- Dental check and cleaning
- Skin cancer checks
- Testes self-checks (men)
- Breast self-checks (women)
- Cholesterol, glucose and kidney tests (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people)
All of the same checks as in your 20s and 30s plus:
- Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment
- Cardiovascular Risk Assessment
- Cholesterol and glucose levels
All of the same checks as in your 40s plus:
- Mammogram (women)
- Eye checks for glaucoma
- Osteoporosis Risk Assessment
- Bowel cancer screening (also called FOBT – faecal occult blood test)
Visual acuity and hearing impairment tests
If you’re sexually active:
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) screenings
- HPV test every five years (women)
‘A routine check-up also gives you the chance to check-in with you doctor about all the little things that may impact your health as we age. Make sure you ask about any lifestyle changes you might need to make at your age and stage of life. These changes can help keep you healthy, particularly if you have a family history of illness, or other risk factors,’ he said.
“More importantly, while some illnesses are more likely as you age, you should always reach out to your GP to discuss any unexplained symptoms or changes in your health.”
The 2021 Census was collected at a time when many areas of Australia were in the grips of lockdown, so it might not be surprising that mental health topped the list of reported ongoing health issues.
Dr Lubliner says that health professionals are well-trained in supporting patients with mental health issues or concerns, so we hope that people feel more empowered to seek help, if they need it.
‘I think it would be fair to say that the vast majority of us have focused on their mental health at some point in the past couple of years,’ he said.
‘For many, it may have been the first time they’ve even thought about their own mental health and that can be confronting. Opening up to your doctor can feel like a big step, but it can also be the first step to feeling better.’
It’s time to prioritise your health, both your physical and mental wellbeing. Wellness is more than a buzzword. It’s about staying well and focusing on your mental and physical health, because the best way to treat an illness is to prevent it even happening, or to catch it early.