What is a preventive health check-up and why should you care

The CDC states that by getting the right health services, screenings, and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances of living a longer, healthier life."=

The World Health Organization states that wellness incorporates attitudes and activities that prevents disease, improves health, enhances the quality of life, and bring a person to increasingly optimum levels of well-being.

It is not a coincidence that the highest global health authority puts prevention first in their definition of wellness, which is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.

When we were kids, our parents or family took us to the doctor or dentist at least once a year for a preventive health check-up.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” states the old saying, which pretty much underlines that it is better and easier to stop a problem or illness from happening than to stop or correct it after it has started.

Eating right, exercising, and enough sleep is necessary, as is avoiding tobacco, alcohol, drugs, excess salt and sugar intake.

The Center for Disease and Control and Prevention -CDC- suggests that preventive health check-up exams and tests can help find problems before they start.

“By getting the right health services, screenings, and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances of living a longer, healthier life.”

The CDC recommends the following tests, screenings, and vaccinations for adults:

  • Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection
  • Cholesterol
  • Colorectal Cancer Screening
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Immunization Schedules
  • Oral Health for Adults
  • Prostate Cancer Screening
  • Skin Cancer: Basic Information
  • Viral Hepatitis

How often should you get a preventive health check-up

Several years ago, medical groups suggested an annual health exam.

However, the American Medical Association and other similar organizations have moved away from the yearly exam.

The AMA defends that preventive check-ups should be performed every three to five years for adults over 18 until age 40, and every one to three years after that.

However, the CDC explains that “your age, health and family history, lifestyle choices (i.e. what you eat, how active you are, whether you smoke), and other important factors impact what and how often you need healthcare.”

Moreover, the requirements are for more frequent evaluations for those taking prescription medications.

Most people younger than 40 years of age are generally free from diseases that could be diagnosed by physical examination alone.

In this age group, health problems usually show specific signs or symptoms that would prompt you to seek medical attention.


Research shows that it is cost-effective, and far less distressing, to invest in a preventive health check-up rather than visiting a hospital only when an emergency arises.

The examination has many purposes, including:

  • Identifying risk factors for common chronic diseases.
  • To detect a disease that has no apparent symptoms (secondary prevention).
  • Getting counseling for healthy behavior.
  • Updating clinical data since the last checkup, if any.
  • Enhancing your relationship with your doctor.

Bottom line, a preventive health check-up aims to identify and minimize risk factors in addition to detecting illnesses at an early stage.


The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent group of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a federal agency that conducts and supports health promotion, prevention, and preparedness activities in the United States, and is managed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).