This weekend I reached out to family medicine physician Monica Coronel to understand better what we should expect in our yearly physicals and how we can best keep ourselves healthy.
What should your patients expect during a yearly physical?
Yearly physicals are meant for health maintenance and for disease risk assessment.
A few basic evaluations done on every patient are:
-Weight check- this then allows us to calculate the body mass index (BMI). We then can use this as a guide as a baseline level and for future use. You can look skinny and have a high BMI because you are full of muscle or you could have a low BMI and not be healthy.
-Blood pressure- Blood pressure is still considered normal below 120/80mm HG. However, stage 1 hypertension, the point at which people have twice the risk for cardiovascular disease now begins at 130/80 mm HG. I may need to take a patient’s BP several times and then average them together (I realize some people get reactive blood pressure to ‘white coats.’).
Next: my physical exam is intended to get more clues about you.
Depending on the review of systems I may order additional studies such as an EKG, a chest x-ray.
Last is blood work. I like to check a blood count, blood sugar, liver, kidney function, cholesterol and thyroid studies. If I am thinking you may have pre-diabetes I may order a HgbA1c, which is a marker of blood sugar over a 3 month period of time.
What are the general recommendations for Breast Mammogram?
For the general population, women should get a mammogram every year starting at 40 y/o. If you have dense breasts and/or a family history the recommendations may differ. You can stop around 75-80 years old.
What are the general recommendations for Colonoscopies?
Start at 50 y/o for the general population. If family history of colon cancer, Hispanic or African American start earlier or at least by 45 y/o. Generally you can stop these exams at 75 y/o.
What do you recommend to your patients, family and friends for daily health maintenance?
* Eat mostly a plant-based diet. This way of eating is good for you and for the planet.
* Aim to drink lots of water, enough that you are going to the bathroom frequently.
* Exercise 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity weekly.
* Incorporate strength training 2 times a week.
* Limit exposure to plastics because of the endocrine disrupting chemicals (BPA, phthalates) in them. I therefore encourage the avoidance of canned foods, the use of a water filter, and to not use plastic in the microwave.
Monica Coronel, MD
Monica Coronel is a Family Medicine Physician. She did her residency at University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, then she relocated to Hollywood, Florida. In Fla. she joined a family medicine group with 2 other doctors.
She is married to a fellow doctor (an internist) whom she met while in medical school. They have 2 children.
Monica started sharing her love for wellness and emphasis on preventive medicine through an active social media presence.