When was your last annual physical exam? Is that important?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – especially true when it comes to health care.
VA is dedicated to helping Veterans maintain their health and screen for various health risks through proper preventative care.
You can use VA resources like My HealtheVet to access your health records. Doing so helps you prepare for an exam. You also can message your care team securely with any questions you have after an appointment.
In addition, you can search the helpful information available at the VA Health Library to understand dozens of health conditions.
Elements of the exam
An average physical can include:
- A comprehensive physical exam catered to a patient’s age, gender and specific risk factors
- A check for heart health
- A lungs examination
- Skin screening
- A lab test, including blood count and cholesterol
- BMI (body mass index) testing
- Screenings for age- and gender-appropriate cancer risk factors
One of the most important aspects of preventative care is the partnership between a physician and patient.
You can help by being informed about your family medical history and researching your health conditions or risk factors.
Many patients are unaware that in addition to discussing physical issues, an annual physical exam also offers the opportunity to talk about any new or ongoing struggles with depression, PTSD, homelessness, drug dependency or an entire range of health-related issues.
The VA system prompts clinicians to ask those important questions. On some occasions, medical staff refers Veterans who screen positive to mental health the same day for further evaluation and management.
This is especially important as more and more research points to the association between emotional stress and physical illness.