Well, this is one for the books! Just 10 days ago I scheduled my annual physical six weeks ahead.
I'm having it done as part of my own health maintenance and also using it to follow up on some sports injuries I've accrued in the past 18 months.
And today I came across a study that says it might be a waste of time!
At my annual, I'll get a reminder about booking a mammogram (done!), a general exam and a chat about mental health -- the usual stuff my health care provider and clinic offer.
Will I die without it? Certainly not! But it's something I've done with some regularity for the past 15 years and something I plan to continue.
It also helps that I have good insurance. My husband gets an annual and my kids see their pediatrician when needed. Most of my friends get annual physicals too.
So do we actually need these annual physicals? If we're overall healthy human beings with no chronic illness or diseases, what exactly is an annual physical going to do, aside from checking blood pressure and heart rate?
Apparently, it's not going to help much at all, according to a report from the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen, Denmark. The report looked at sixteen studies on the subject, following almost 185,000 people .
The general outcome of the research was that while more diagnoses of conditions like high blood pressure were found in those that got the screenings, nobody who had routine checkups actually lived longer than those who did not.
Nine of the trials saw nearly 12,000 deaths over the period of time they were studied. But of the people who died, there was no difference as to whether they were in a group that got annual screenings for conditions like cancer or heart disease, or not.
In England, people are offered free health screenings from age 40 to 74 to conduct standard testing for conditions like heart disease, various cancers and diabetes.
Most people are told that annual screenings for these conditions can find or help prevent them but according to the Copenhagen study, those yearly exams may not really be as helpful as thought.