Topics to bring up during your annual physical

December 15, 2018

Has it been more than a year since you’ve seen a primary care physician? If so, it is time to schedule that appointment.

Annual exams with a primary care physician are key to maintaining good health from year to year. The physician can discuss a wide variety of topics; however, here are the Top 8 topics a physician wants a patient to think about before visiting the office.

• Heart care. How is heart health? Does the patient eat a lot of red meat? Does one notice the heart feels uncomfortable at times? Does one have a family history of heart disease? Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death among men and women. If there are concerns about the heart, bring them up to the physician so that the doctor can help monitor cholesterol and blood pressure.

• Cancer. Early detection is the No. 1 way to survive cancer. If experiencing pain that is more than usual, talk to the doctor. It could be an early sign of cancer. Does one have a history of smoking? Or worked in a career that exposed one to environmental risks? By disclosing this information, the doctor can help monitor symptoms and order tests that could find cancer early and help one live longer. It may also be time for a routine cancer screening such as a mammogram or prostate screening. The doctor can help arrange these appointments and keep track of them.

• Chronic conditions. If one has ongoing conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, heart conditions, diabetes or others, talk to the doctor about the latest research to make sure treatments are working as well as they could. Research is constantly discovering new treatments and medical procedures. Make sure one is doing what is best for the condition and lifestyle.

• Over-treating? Advertisements for the latest natural cure-all continue to proliferate on both social media and television. Talk to your doctor about any supplements you are taking, even if they aren’t prescribed, to make sure they won’t react with new prescriptions. The doctor can also suggest supplements if necessary or even take patients over medications that are no longer needed.

• Mental concerns. Does one have anxiety or ongoing stress? Trouble recalling things regularly? Worried about mental clarity? All of these items should be discussed with the physician regularly so that the doctor can help determine if this is normal from age or if it is something to look into more deeply.

To download a worksheet with tips for seniors planning for their annual physicals or Medicare wellness visits, go to

John Hale, MD, is a board-certified family medicine physician and medical director of primary care for Beebe Healthcare.
He sees patients at Beebe Family Practice – Lewes. For more information, call 302-645-2281 or go to