You should visit your health care provider regularly, even if you feel healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:
- Screen for medical issues
- Assess your risk for future medical problems
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle
- Update vaccinations
- Help you get to know your provider in case of an illness
Even if you feel fine, you should still see your provider for regular checkups. These visits can help you avoid problems in the future. For example, the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly. High blood sugar and high cholesterol levels also may not have any symptoms in the early stages. A simple blood test can check for these conditions.
There are specific times when you should see your provider. Below are screening guidelines for men age 65 and older.
ABDOMINAL AORTIC ANEURYSM SCREENING
- If you are between ages 65 and 75 and have smoked, you should have an ultrasound to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysms.
- Other men should discuss this screening with their provider.
BLOOD PRESSURE SCREENING
- Have your blood pressure checked every year. If the top number (systolic number) is between 120 and 139 or the bottom number (diastolic number) is between 80 and 89 mm Hg or higher, then continue to have it checked every year.
- If the top number is greater than 140, or the bottom number is greater than 90, schedule an appointment with your provider.
- If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be checked more often, at least once a year.
- Watch for blood pressure screenings in your area. Ask your provider if you can stop in to have your blood pressure checked. You can also check your blood pressure using the automated machines at local grocery stores and pharmacies.
CHOLESTEROL SCREENING AND HEART DISEASE PREVENTION
- Your cholesterol should be checked at least every 5 years if levels are normal.
- If you have high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be checked more often.
LUNG CANCER SCREENING
The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults until age 80 who:
- Have a 30 pack-year smoking history AND
- Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years
COLON CANCER SCREENING
Until age 75, you should have one of the following screening tests:
- A fecal occult blood (stool-based) test done every year
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 10 years, along with a fecal occult blood test every year
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
You may need a colonoscopy more often if you have risk factors for colon cancer, such as:
- Ulcerative colitis
- A personal or family history of cancer of the colon or rectum
- A history of growths called adenomatous polyps
- If you are age 65 or older and in good health, you should be screened for diabetes every 3 years.
- If you are overweight and have other risk factors for diabetes, ask your provider if you should be screened more often.
- Go to the dentist once or twice every year for an exam and cleaning. Your dentist will evaluate if you have a need for more frequent visits.
- Have an eye exam every 1 to 2 years.
- Have an eye exam at least every year if you have diabetes.
- Have your hearing tested if you have symptoms of hearing loss.
- If you are age 65 or older, get a pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one, or if it has been more than 5 years since you had the vaccine.
- You should get a flu shot each year.
- Get a tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years.
- You may get a shingles, or herpes zoster, vaccine after age 60.
- If you have risk factors for osteoporosis, you should check with your provider about screening. Risk factors can include long-term steroid use, low body weight, smoking, heavy alcohol use, a fracture after age 50, or a family history of osteoporosis.
- Men age 70 and over should consider getting bone mineral density testing.
PROSTATE CANCER SCREENING
- Talk with your provider about prostate cancer screening.
- The potential benefits of PSA testing as a routine screening test have not been shown to outweigh the harms of testing and treatment.
- Prostate examinations are no longer routinely done on men with no symptoms.
- Have a yearly physical exam.
- Your provider will check your weight, height, and body mass index (BMI).
During the exam, your provider will ask you about:
- Your medicines and risk for interactions
- Alcohol and tobacco use
- Diet and exercise
- Safety, such as using a seat belt
Health maintenance visit - men - over age 65; Physical exam - men - over age 65; Yearly exam - men - over age 65; Checkup - men - over age 65; Men's health - over age 65; Preventive care exam - men - over age 65
American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Policy statement: frequency of ocular examinations - 2015. . Accessed June 9, 2017.
American Dental Association. Mouth healthy website. Your top 9 questions about going to the dentist - answered. . Accessed June 9, 2017.
American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes - 2017. Diabetes Care. 2017;40(Suppl 1):S1-S98. .
Atkins D, Barton M. The periodic health examination. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 15.
Carter HB, Albertsen PC, Barry MJ, et al. Early detection of prostate cancer: AUA Guideline. J Urol. 2013;190(2):419-426. PMID: 23659877 .
Cosman F, de Beur SJ, LeBoff MS, et al. Clinician's guide to prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Osteoporos Int. 2014;25(10):2359-2381. PMID: 25182228 .
Fihn SD, Blankenship JC, Alexander KP, et al. 2014 ACC/AHA/AATS/PCNA/SCAI/STS focused update of the guideline for the diagnosis and management of patients with stable ischemic heart disease: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines, and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Circulation. 2014;130(19):1749-1767. PMID: 25070666 .
James PA, Oparil S, Carter BL, et al. 2014 evidence-based guideline for the management of high blood pressure in adults: report from the panel members appointed to the Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8). JAMA. 2014;311(5):507-520. PMID: 24352797 .
Kim DK, Riley LE, Harriman KH, Hunter P, Bridges CB; Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), ACIP Adult Immunization Work Group. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended immunization schedule for adults aged 19 years or older -- United States, 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017;66(5):136-138. PMID: 28182599 .
Meschia JF, Bushnell C, Boden-Albala B, et al. Guidelines for the primary prevention of stroke: a statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2014;45(12):3754-3832. PMID: 25355838 .
Moyer VA; US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for lung cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2014;160(5):330-338. PMID: 24378917 .
Ridker PM, Libby P, Buring JE. Risk markers and the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. In: Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 42.
Siu AL; US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for high blood pressure in adults: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2015;163(10):778-786. PMID: 26458123 .
Smith RA, Andrews KS, Brooks D, et al. Cancer screening in the United States, 2017: a review of current American Cancer Society guidelines and current issues in cancer screening. CA Cancer J Clin. 2017;67(2):100-121. PMID 28170086 .
Stone NJ, Robinson JG, Lichtenstein AH, et al. 2013 ACC/AHA guideline on the treatment of blood cholesterol to reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2014;129(25 Suppl 2):S1-S45. PMID: 24222016 .
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Bibbins-Domingo K, Grossman DC, Curry SJ, et al. Screening for colorectal cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2016;315(23):2564-2575. PMID: 27304597 .
Review Date 5/21/2017
Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.