With rapidly changing lifestyles, keeping a check on your wellness with regular health checkups is more a necessity than an option. However, the exhaustive check-up packages offered by hospitals and laboratories can get quite overwhelming. We offer you an expert opinion to make this annual routine meaningful. Dr Gita Arjun, obstetrician and gynaecologist, and author of Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy, breaks down the concept of a complete health check-up for women based on their age.
While people are becoming more proactive about their health in terms of diet and exercise, a regular health screening is an important aspect of staying healthy.
A screening test looks for telltale signs in people who may be at risk for certain diseases. Screening is worthwhile medicine. Screening saves women’s lives. Preventing disease may not always be possible, but screening tests may catch diseases early and allow you to take active steps to deal with them.
Indian women are at high risk for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and stroke. How long women survive with some diseases, such as uterine cancer and breast cancer, is directly related to how early the disease is found. Unfortunately, women are often not diagnosed until a disease has already reached a critical stage. That is why screening is so important.
As far as master health check-ups are concerned, there is an urgent need to get away from the concept of ‘one size fits all’ or in this regard, ‘one package fits all’. Every woman is different and so are her issues. The goal of a health check-up is to obtain the maximum amount of health information with the least number of tests.
Master health checks – the good and the bad
Most hospitals these days have common pre-fixed packages for both men and women. Not only are they exhaustive, their prices differ too. For health check-ups to be meaningful, three very important factors need to be kept in mind:
• The tests should be tailored to the person in terms of age, sex, medical and family history.
• More expensive and larger number of tests are not necessarily better.
• Unnecessary tests may lead to unnecessary interventions.
If none of these factors are considered, there is no purpose to screening or undertaking a master health check-up. Ignorance can be highly misleading or falsely reassuring.
Unless the health check-up includes a complete physical examination where a physician actually examines you, it is an incomplete check-up. In women over 35, a Pap smear and breast examination are an essential part of a health check up.