The frequency of a check-up must be established by the patient’s doctor and varies depending on the person’s state of health, medical history and family illnesses. It is usually recommended that tests be performed with the following frequency:

Healthy adults: every 2 years; people with chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes or cancer every 6 months and people with risk factors for some disease, such as obesity, smokers, people leading a sedentary lifestyle or people with high cholesterol levels, once a year.

It is also important that people who are at risk of heart problems, pay special attention to some symptoms, such as easy tiredness or chest pain. In general, consultation with the cardiologist for men over 45 and women over 50 who have no history of heart problems should take place annually. However, if there is a family history of heart disease, it is possible that the doctor recommends that annual consultations should begin at age 30 for men and 40 for women.

Tests requested during a check-up will permit the doctor to confirm the functioning of some organs, such as kidneys, liver and heart, in addition to being useful in identifying infections and blood alterations such as anaemia and leukaemia.

The main tests required are: fasting blood glucose; blood count; urea and creatinine; uric acid; cholesterol and triglycerides; transaminases to check liver function; TSH and free T4 (for thyroid activity); CRP (infection/inflammation); urine test and stool test.

In addition to these tests, other tests depending on the patient’s general state of health, such as transferrin, ferritin, tumour markers and sex hormones, may also be requested by the doctor. As far as radiological examinations are concerned, an abdominal ultrasound, chest X-ray, echocardiogram and electrocardiogram as well as ophthalmological examinations are normally also necessary.

In the case of diabetic patients, the glycated haemoglobin test may also be requested, which evaluates the amount of circulating glucose in a period of three months.

For women, it is important that specific exams are performed annually, such as Pap smears, colposcopy, vulvoscopy, breast ultrasound and transvaginal ultrasound. From the results of these exams, the gynaecologist can confirm whether there are any infection, cysts or alterations of the reproductive system.

On the other hand, for men from age 40 specific exams are recommended, such as ultrasound of the prostate and PSA hormone measurement.

In the case of smokers, for example, in addition to the tests normally requested, additional tests are recommended such as some tumour markers, spirometry with evaluation of respiratory function, electrocardiogram with stress test and sputum analysis with cancer cell research.

Health starts with prevention, so don’t put off your annual check-up any longer.