You’re healthy. You take good care of yourself and have no real ailments. Do you really need to make an appointment for an annual physical? “Absolutely,” said Dr. William Abraham, a board-certified internal medicine physician with TMC One, formerly Saguaro Physicians. “There are a number of medical problems that do not necessarily cause symptoms or obvious physical changes that someone without medical training may not recognize,” said Dr. Abraham. “These problems can often be detected during a physical, which is why it’s so important to see your primary care practitioner once a year.”
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, for example, is referred to as “the silent killer.” It oftentimes goes undetected, and can lead to a heart attack, stroke and even kidney failure. But it can be detected during a routine medical exam. Diabetes, or high blood sugar, can also cause those complications along with an assortment of other potentially devastating ones. How is it detected? A simple blood test. Also in this category – high cholesterol. It never causes symptoms, but can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Oftentimes people may not realize they have high cholesterol until it’s too late and they have suffered something catastrophic.
A routine blood test can also detect anemia, which can be a sign of undetected bleeding, malnutrition, vitamin B12 deficiency or numerous other possible illnesses. And it can easily detect other metabolic abnormalities such as decreased kidney function.
A once-a-year check of your heart also makes getting a physical invaluable. “When a practitioner listens to your heart or performs an electrocardiogram, they can detect heart disease such as atrial fibrillation. This common, irregular heart rhythm increases the risk of stroke but can be treated with medication to reduce your risk,” explained Dr. Abraham.
Your primary care practitioner can also examine your skin at a screening exam – a good way to detect pre-cancers and cancers of the skin, particularly in areas that are hard for someone to see on their own body, like their back or the top of their head.
One part of the Affordable Care Act requires that insurance companies cover 100 percent of an annual physical so that no co-pay is required, even with high-deductible insurance policies. The only exception is Medicare and certain Medicare managed care plans. It’s best to check with your insurance company about your coverage.
Dr. Abraham has more than 30 years of experience and is available for same-day appointments including annual physicals if you are finding it difficult to get in to your regular provider.
His office is located at 1396 N. Wilmot Road in Tucson, 85712.
Call (520) 324-2160 to make an appointment.