Have you ever wondered if you need a ‘health check up’ even though you’re feeling healthy?
We interviewed Dr Sir-Kit Leong, General Practitioner at SmartClinics Clayfield Medical Centre to find out when you should start having a general health check, and what’s involved…
Q: What exactly is a health check?
Dr Leong: To put simply, it’s an analysis of your current lifestyle and medical history to find out if we need to work on anything to reduce your risk of developing chronic health problems or diseases. The goal is to help you to lead a healthier life so we look at ways to make that happen.
Q: How old should you be when you have your first check up?
Dr Leong: Health checks are important for everybody, regardless of your age, even if you’re feeling healthy. Health checks are advised for patients who are aged 40 – 49, and above 60 years old. Nonetheless there are preventative health measures which are important too in children and young adults.
As the saying goes – prevention is better than cure.
Q: How often should I have a check up and where can I get one?
Dr Leong: For anyone aged under 60, I’d recommend a health check every two to five years. For patients 60 years and older, more regular checks may be required based on their individual health level. I run a weekly health check clinic here at our Clayfield clinic as it’s one of my special areas of interest, but any SmartClinics Doctor can also provide a check up.
Q: How long does it take and what’s involved?
Dr Leong: Depending on the age and health of the patient, health checks generally take around 30 minutes. For your first appointment, I’d allow 45 minutes. A health check for a child or young adult is significantly different from a middle aged or mature aged person. It’s really a case-by-case approach as every patient’s health is different and so is their family history.
Q: So what are some examples of the things you check for or discuss?
Dr Leong: For adults, I screen for osteoporosis in females over 45 years old and men aged over 50 aside from cardiovascular and diabetes check. We also discuss smoking, nutrition, alcohol, and their physical activity.
It also provides an opportunity for us to discuss the role of screening blood tests, which patients commonly enquire about, but may not be necessary.
I track the BMI (body mass index) weight chart regularly for patients regardless of age. For instance, this check is particularly important for children in their first 4 years of life, as weight >85th percentile for their age increases their risk of obesity as an adult.
With adolescent patients we talk about their mental health, sexual health, and challenges transitioning into adulthood. Sometimes young patients find these topics hard to talk about with their friends or parents.
Q: What is the cost for a check up with you at SmartClinics Clayfield Medical Centre?
Dr Leong: There is a small gap fee for your health check consultation. Our reception team can provide you with more information about the breakdown in costs.