Weight Loss related exam is limited and in no way it
should be replaced with annual physical and or gynecological exam.
The physical exam is an essential part of any doctor's visit. For the
purpose of weight loss treatment, there are no absolutes in a routine physical.
You will experience some aspects of the annual exam:
History. This is your chance to mention any complaints or concerns
about your health. Your doctor will also likely quiz you about important
behaviors, like smoking, excessive alcohol use, sexual health, diet, and
exercise and update your personal and family medical history.
Vital Signs. These are some vital signs checked by your doctor:
- Blood pressure: less than 120
over 80 is a normal blood pressure. Doctors define high blood pressure
(hypertension) as 140 over 90 or higher.
- Heart rate: Values between 60
and 100 are considered normal. Many healthy people have heart rates slower
than 60, however.
- Respiration rate: Around 16
is normal. Breathing more than 20 times per minute can suggest heart or
- Temperature: 98.6 degrees
Fahrenheit is the average, but healthy people can have resting
temperatures slightly higher or lower.
Your doctor gathers a large amount of information
about you and your health just by watching and talking to you. How is your
memory and mental quickness? Does your skin appear healthy? Can you easily
stand and walk?
Listening to your heart with a stethoscope, a doctor
might detect an irregular heartbeat, a heart murmur, or other clues to heart
Using a stethoscope, a doctor listens for crackles,
wheezes, or decreased breath sounds. These and other sounds are clues to the
presence of heart or lung disease.
Head and Neck Exam.
Opening up and saying "ah" shows off
your throat and tonsils. The quality of your teeth and gums also provides
information about your overall health. Ears, nose, sinuses, eyes, lymph nodes,
thyroid, and carotid arteries are also examined.
Your doctor can use a range of examination techniques
including tapping your abdomen to detect liver size and presence of abdominal
fluid, listening for bowel sounds with a stethoscope, and palpating for
Nerves, muscle strength, reflexes, balance, and mental
state are assessed.
Skin and nail findings could indicate a
dermatological problem or disease somewhere else in the body.
Your doctor will look for physical and sensory
changes. Pulses can be checked in your arms and legs. Examining joints can
assess for abnormalities.
An annual physical exam for men might also include:
- Testicular exam: A doctor can
check each testicle for lumps, tenderness, or changes in size. Most men
with testicular cancer notice a growth before seeing a doctor.
- Hernia exam: The famous
"turn your head and cough" checks for a weakness in the
abdominal wall between the intestines and scrotum.
- Penis exam: A doctor might
notice evidence of sexually transmitted infections such as warts or ulcers
on the penis.
- Prostate exam: Inserting a
finger in the rectum lets a doctor feel the prostate for its size and any
Female Physical Exam
A woman's annual exam might include:
- Breast exam. Feeling for
abnormal lumps may detect breast cancer or benign breast conditions. The
doctor will also check the lymph nodes in the underarm area and look for
visual abnormalities of the breasts.
- Pelvic exam: The pelvic exam
allows examination of the vulva, vagina, and cervix. Routine checks for
sexually transmitted infections are often done. A Pap test can screen for cervical
Types of Blood Tests
Some of the most common blood tests are:
- A complete blood count (CBC)
- Blood chemistry tests
- Blood enzyme tests
- Blood tests to assess heart
Complete Blood Count
The CBC is one of the most common blood tests. It's often done as part of a
The CBC can help detect blood diseases and disorders, such as anemia,
infections, clotting problems, blood cancers, and immune system disorders. This
test measures many different parts of your blood, as discussed in the following
Red Blood Cells
Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.
Abnormal red blood cell levels may be a sign of anemia, dehydration (too little
fluid in the body), bleeding, or another disorder.
White Blood Cells
White blood cells are part of your immune system, which fights infections
and diseases. Abnormal white blood cell levels may be a sign of infection,
blood cancer, or an immune system disorder.
A CBC measures the overall number of white blood cells in your blood. A CBC
with differential looks at the amounts of different types of white blood cells
in your blood.
Platelets (PLATE-lets) are blood cell fragments that help your blood clot.
They stick together to seal cuts or breaks on blood vessel walls and stop
Abnormal platelet levels may be a sign of a bleeding disorder (not enough
clotting) or a thrombotic disorder (too much clotting).
Hemoglobin (HEE-muh-glow-bin) is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells
that carries oxygen. Abnormal hemoglobin levels may be a sign of anemia, sickle
cell anemia, thalassemia (thal-a-SE-me-ah), or other blood disorders.
If you have diabetes, excess glucose in your blood can attach to hemoglobin
and raise the level of hemoglobin A1c.
Hematocrit (hee-MAT-oh-crit) is a measure of how much space red blood cells
take up in your blood. A high hematocrit level might mean you're dehydrated. A
low hematocrit level might mean you have anemia. Abnormal hematocrit levels
also may be a sign of a blood or bone marrow disorder.
Mean Corpuscular Volume
Mean corpuscular (kor-PUS-kyu-lar) volume (MCV) is a measure of the average
size of your red blood cells. Abnormal MCV levels may be a sign of anemia or
Blood Chemistry Tests/Basic Metabolic Panel
The basic metabolic panel (BMP) is a group of tests that measures different
chemicals in the blood. These tests usually are done on the fluid (plasma) part
of blood. The tests can give doctors information about your muscles (including
the heart), bones, and organs, such as the kidneys and liver.
The BMP includes blood glucose, calcium, and electrolyte tests, as well as
blood tests that measure kidney function. Some of these tests require you to
fast (not eat any food) before the test, and others don't. Your doctor will
tell you how to prepare for the test(s) you're having.
Glucose is a type of sugar that the body uses for energy. Abnormal glucose
levels in your blood may be a sign of diabetes.
For some blood glucose tests, you have to fast before your blood is drawn.
Other blood glucose tests are done after a meal or at any time with no
Calcium is an important mineral in the body. Abnormal calcium levels in the
blood may be a sign of kidney problems, bone disease, thyroid disease, cancer,
malnutrition, or another disorder.
Electrolytes are minerals that help maintain fluid levels and acid-base balance
in the body. They include sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, and chloride.
Abnormal electrolyte levels may be a sign of dehydration, kidney disease,
liver disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, or other disorders.
Blood tests for kidney function measure levels of blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
and creatinine (kre-AT-ih-neen). Both of these are waste products that the
kidneys filter out of the body. Abnormal BUN and creatinine levels may be signs
of a kidney disease or disorder.
Blood Enzyme Tests
Enzymes are chemicals that help control chemical reactions in your body.
There are many blood enzyme tests. This section focuses on blood enzyme tests
used to check for heart attack. These include troponin and creatine
(KRE-ah-teen) kinase (CK) tests.
Troponin is a muscle protein that helps your muscles contract. When muscle
or heart cells are injured, troponin leaks out, and its levels in your blood
For example, blood levels of troponin rise when you have a heart attack. For
this reason, doctors often order troponin tests when patients have chest pain
or other heart attack signs and symptoms.
A blood product called CK-MB is released when the heart muscle is damaged.
High levels of CK-MB in the blood can mean that you've had a heart attack.
Blood Tests to Assess Heart Disease Risk
A lipoprotein panel is a blood test that can help show whether you're at
risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). This test looks at substances in your
blood that carry cholesterol.
A lipoprotein panel gives information about your:
- Total cholesterol.
- LDL ("bad")
cholesterol. This is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockages
in the arteries. (For more information about blockages in the arteries, go
to the Diseases and Conditions Index Atherosclerosis article.)
- HDL ("good")
cholesterol. This type of cholesterol helps decrease blockages in the
- Triglycerides. Triglycerides
are a type of fat in your blood.
A lipoprotein panel measures the levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides
in your blood. Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels may be signs of
increased risk for CHD.
Most people will need to fast for 9 to 12 hours before a lipoprotein panel
There are no standard laboratory tests during this exam. However, we may order
certain tests routinely:
- Complete blood count
- Chemistry panel
- Urinalysis (UA)
Unless symptoms already suggest a problem, these tests are unlikely to
provide useful information.
A lipid panel (cholesterol test) is recommended every five years. Abnormal cholesterol
levels increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes.
Physicals may advise Prevention
The annual physical exam is a great opportunity to refocus your attention on
prevention and screening:
- At age 50, it's time to begin
regular screening for colorectal cancer. People with immediate family
members with colorectal cancer may need to be screened before age 50.
- For most women, age 40 marks
the time to begin annual mammogram screening for breast cancer.
- Everyone should have their
cholesterol (lipids) checked every five years after age 20, according to
the American Heart Association.
Healthy behaviors work far better than medicine at preventing illness, and
don't require a prescription:
- Do 30 minutes of brisk walking
or other exercise, most days of the week. Your risk for cardiovascular
disease, diabetes, and cancer will fall dramatically.
- Eat a mostly plant-based
diet, low in animal fats.
- Above all, don't smoke.
What should you bring to my
"Welcome to Medicare" physical exam?
Medical records, family health history and a list of
- Medical records, including
immunization records. Even if your current doctor does the exam, gather as
much medical information as you can to make sure nothing is overlooked.
- Family health history. Try to
learn as much as you can about your family's health history before your
appointment. The information will help you and your doctor better
understand what screenings you should get and what to watch for in the future.
- Prescription drugs. Bring a
list of any prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and
supplements that you currently take, how often you take them, and why.