Do you need an annual health check-up?

While some people have annual health check-ups, not everyone needs a check-up every year.

If you’re healthy, you don’t always need to have an annual health check-up (which usually involves checking your health history, a physical examination and some tests).

What is really important is to have a trusted healthcare professional you see regularly, or as needed, who makes sure you’re receiving the medical care that’s best suited to your individual needs.

When should I visit my healthcare provider?

See your health professional:

  • when you’re sick and need treatment
  • when you have symptoms that could mean illness
  • to prevent health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart problems 
  • to manage chronic (ongoing) conditions
  • to check the effects of a new medicine
  • to help with risk factors like obesity or smoking
  • to discuss any mental health issues or concerns
  • when you’re pregnant
  • for lifestyle issues (like contraception)
  • for regular screening checks like a smear test
  • for other reasons based on your individual needs.

Do I need an annual check-up?

Annual physicals usually don’t make you healthier. There have been many studies into the effects of annual check-ups. In general, they probably won’t help you stay well and live longer. And they don’t usually help you avoid hospital stays or keep you from dying of cancer or heart disease.

Tests and screening can cause problems

Most people should only have a test or examination if they have symptoms or risk factors. A problem that can arise is receiving a false-positive test result, which can cause anxiety and unnecessary follow-up test and treatments.

For example, a false-positive blood result can result in a biopsy, or an ECG (electrocardiogram) that’s interpreted incorrectly could lead to another test that exposes you to radiation.

Set a schedule with your health professional

Your healthcare professional knows your health history best, so you can discuss with them the best time for any tests or examinations you may need, or whether an annual check-up is necessary.

Remember, everyone should get the recommended vaccinations and screening tests at the times and frequencies recommended by the Ministry of Health.

Please talk to your GP or healthcare provider if you have any questions about whether you need an annual health check-up or not.

Reference

  1. Health checkups Choosing Wisely, NZ, 2014
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.