New Year's resolutions for health begin with primary care

special to the herald-leaderJanuary 10, 2014 

With a new year, often comes a renewed resolution to better manage one's health. Whether your goal is to lose weight, get fit or adopt a healthier lifestyle, your primary care physician is the best place to start.

Your family physician can provide you with an annual exam, which will help determine your current medical state, and what modifications and treatments may be necessary to manage your health. It is important to know where you stand before considering any changes, including starting a new diet or exercise plan. Your physician can also evaluate and treat any active medical problems, and review your risk for future health issues.

Along with evaluating and treating any active medical problems, an annual exam will help you and your family physician manage your health and can ultimately help you enjoy a longer, healthier life. Regular exams will allow your physician to monitor such things as your blood pressure, cholesterol and other issues that you may not be able to see or sense on your own. Your family physician will help you modify the risk factors that you can manage yourself. Managing these risk factors will decrease the likelihood of serious problems such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes and kidney failure.

Many conditions may be related to family history, which in some cases can be the greatest predictor of a health issue. Genetic relationships are often better indicators of your health risks than any blood test. Seeing a family care physician is important because your doctor is able to see the entire family as a single unit, and make determinations regarding your health based on your family as a whole.

Additionally, your family care practitioner can help manage other routine health check-ups that you may need at regular intervals like colonoscopies, eye exams, prostate checks, pap smears and immunizations. Your primary care physician can help to not only coordinate the care provided by other physicians, but also to direct you to appropriate specialists when more in depth treatment is required.

An annual well-visit to your primary care physician can also provide you with the opportunity to discuss good health practices, like diet and exercise. Maintaining good practices should be discussed regularly with your physician to ensure optimal health. Part of ensuring good health would also involve discussing with your physician any problems that you may have with smoking, alcohol or drug use, obesity and having a sedentary lifestyle. These and other issues may not come up during an acute care visit, so an annual visit is the good time to address these issues.

No matter what your goal is for good health in the New Year, a visit to your family physician is an excellent place to begin. Knowing exactly where your health stands is a sure-fire way to jumpstart your year. We will help you develop a meaningful, attainable plan to help you manage your health, not only for the New Year but for years to come.

Dr. Leo Rogers is with Saint Joseph Jessamine Family Practice, part of KentuckyOne Health.

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