Preventive Health Dr. Desai Internal Medicine provider Veena Desai, MD, discusses why getting an annual physical and preventative screening is a great investment in your health

 

As the adage says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Perhaps no one understands this better than family physician Veena Desai, MD, director of Family Practice at Bergen Medical Associates, a multispecialty health care practice that’s been serving the residents of Bergen County, N.J., and Rockland County, N.Y., for over 30 years.

“Preventative health care is so important because it can avoid medical conditions from developing in the first place or catch them early in the process and lead to a better prognosis,” Dr. Desai said. “In most cases, the earlier you identify a condition, the more favorable the outcome, especially with so many treatment options available today.”

A Powerful Tool

Dr. Desai said that adherence to regular physicals and age-appropriate screening exams represent a powerful way to stay on top of and take ownership of your long-term health.

“Physicals are key and everyone should get an annual physical regardless of their age,” she confirmed. “I love these appointments because they’re a great opportunity to truly get to know each patient. During our 30-minute physicals at Bergen Medical Associates, I review the patient’s medical history in terms of their medications, surgeries, allergies, lifestyle behaviors and family history. I also discuss the immunizations or screenings (e.g., cervical pap smears, mammograms, colonoscopies, prostate screening, etc.) that are appropriate for their age,” she said. “For the majority of insurance carriers, there’s no co-pay for these recommended preventative screenings, so patients should definitely capitalize on them because they’re fully covered.”

According to Dr. Desai, physicals at Bergen Medical Associates are thorough exams that involve assessments of everything from the patient’s ear-nose-throat tract, heart and lungs to their neurological function and skin. “For females, physicals also include a breast exam and for males they include an examination of the testicles and prostate,” she said. “Additionally, we have labs in our offices and are able to provide full bloodwork for our patients. This includes a blood count for anemia; a kidney/liver test (comprehensive metabolic panel); a liver panel (full cholesterol panel); a urine analysis to detect blood, protein and sugar in the urine; and the newer hemoglobin A1C test, which assesses a patient’s sugar levels over the last three months. This A1C test will determine whether they’re at risk of pre-diabetes or diabetes in the future,” she said. “If diagnosed, high cholesterol or A1C levels can be addressed through dietary modifications and/or other lifestyle changes. We will monitor that and help reduce the patient’s risk factors.”

Among regular screening exams, “We perform electrocardiograms (or EKGs), which check for signs of heart disease, as well as pap smears,” Dr. Desai said. “We have a colonoscopy and endoscopy suite in our Emerson location, and will provide patients with a prescription for mammograms or bone density tests to be completed at a local imaging center.” Preventative screening tests follow guidelines recommended by a range of renowned regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Family Practice, and therefore are usually covered by insurance. “However, we do recommend that you check with your insurance carrier to confirm their specific coverage,” Dr. Desai advised.

Taking Ownership

A recent survey revealed that while an overwhelming majority of Americans believe in the importance of annual physicals, only one in five adults actually gets one. “Fear, hesitancy and indifference may be behind that trend and I totally understand that,” Dr. Desai said. “But physicals and screenings can help stop medical conditions from developing or can help detect them earlier, when a wider range of treatment options are available.”

If nothing else, “A 30-minute physical is a great opportunity to develop a relationship with your doctor, take ownership of your health, and learn about the screening tests that are in your best interests,” she confirmed.

“In the end, nothing is more important than taking time out once a year to keep yourself healthy and up to date with all of your health screenings,” Dr. Desai concluded. “It represents an extremely beneficial investment in yourself.”

For More Information

With offices in Emerson, Paramus, Ridgewood, Northvale and Montvale, N.J., Bergen Medical Associates offers primary care and 12 areas of specialized care. Patients enjoy the “one-stop shopping” approach where so many medical services are provided under one umbrella. The multispecialty group fosters an environment of collaboration among the physicians, which results in a seamless continuum of care for patients. For more information, visit bergenmed.com or call 201-967-8221.