We have all become familiar with the language thrust upon us by coronavirus – the “new normal” in facing the impact of “social distancing”, “self-isolation”, “pandemics” and “epidemics”, “flattening the curve”, “quarantine”, “lockdowns”, “community spread”, “contact tracing”, “key workers” and so on. Another expression that might give pause for thought in this new vocabulary of everyday is “underlying medical condition”.
People with underlying health conditions, we have been constantly reminded lately, are more likely to experience worse symptoms or develop complications if they contract COVID-19. The concern is that such a condition is a chronic or long-term illness that has in turn weakened the immune system.
The most common medical risks
A significant medical problem like this usually requires long-term treatment, and the resultant diminishing of the immune system puts people at greater risk of serious complications of infectious illness, hence those with underlying health conditions can be more likely to contract coronavirus.
Conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease can affect the immune system, and with your body already tackling another long-term illness, this impacts on the ability to respond as quickly to exterior factors, which puts individuals at increased risk of contracting further illnesses if exposed. The symptoms and impact of infection can be worse.
How can an annual physical reduce this risk?
An annual physical to reduce this risk, such as the comprehensive check-up offered at FirstMed, should be an important part of anyone’s health regime. Remember that some illnesses show no symptoms in the early stages and that simple screenings can uncover serious problems.
Consider this example of a man in his early 30s who hadn’t had an annual physical for three years. He was a young father, busy with work and coaching his son’s baseball team. He had no existing health issues. To qualify for a medical insurance discount he needed to undergo a routine physical exam. Reluctantly, he made the appointment.
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During the course of the physical, he had an electrocardiogram to check his heart and was asked questions about stress, pain, nutrition and exercise, and any concerns he may have. He then had routine blood and urine tests. In his eyes, he had gone to the doctor with the goal of getting out as fast as possible.
From healthy to a sneaky life-threatening condition
A week later his blood work results flagged some areas of concern and further tests were performed. After these tests and a visit to a specialist, the seemingly healthy man was diagnosed with stage-one cancer. But the cancer was caught early, thanks to his routine physical, and his treatment plan is significantly less invasive than if the cancer were diagnosed at a later, more advanced stage.
A simple yearly check-up for a “healthy guy”, then, found asymptomatic cancer.
In a second case, a woman in her 40s was paying a routine visit to her family doctor to discuss bariatric surgery, which helps to lose weight by making changes to the digestive system. “I made the appointment mainly to get the bariatric surgery referral,” she explains. “Before the doctor even came in, the nurse took my blood pressure three times and then called the doctor to come in immediately.”
She was diagnosed with hypertension, dangerously high blood pressure, and sent to the emergency room for immediate care. The busy health-care professional had no idea she was extremely close to having a life-threatening emergency – until she saw her doctor with a different medical issue in mind.
Higher chances for a full recovery
Since both these people are now receiving treatment, their chances of making a full recovery are high. The no-brainer: call FirstMed and schedule a physical examination. Don’t delay and do it annually. Talk with your doctor about any worries you have. Get the testing done at our in-house facilities and act on the results.
Remember, if you catch an issue early, treatment could be less time consuming, less intense, and less costly. Make sure your body is at full throttle. If something needs fixing, the sooner the better.